On-site defibrillators are vital to ‘chain of survival’

I was reading the letter to the editor from Mary Tonachio ("Defibrillator Use Should Not Be Role of Employee," Sentinel, Feb. 19), for whom I have a lot of respect, regarding automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and township employees.

She’s right — it is a great feeling to save a person’s life. Just this month, several members of the East Brunswick Rescue Squad and the East Brunswick Police Department were honored by the American Heart Association (AHA) for our many combined cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) saves in 2003.

We were honored with more than 20 other organizations areawide, including police departments, rescue squads, athletic departments and companies. The message was clear: the sooner an AED is placed on a patient in sudden cardiac arrest, the higher the chances the person will survive. I wish Mary could have attended the ceremony and seen the lifesavers standing side by side with the people whose lives they saved. It was quite a sight.

As an AHA instructor for CPR and first aid, I encourage people of all walks of life to take a class in these courses. As we saw at the AHA awards ceremony, the more people who can begin what the AHA calls the "chain of survival," the more people whose lives will be saved. This early access to CPR is not meant to eliminate the need for police or rescue squad response. It is only meant to start the lifesaving process as soon as possible.

Access to the AEDs, as Mary notes, can be a problem. In many offices in Middlesex County, the AEDs are wall-mounted in common areas, and they alarm when accessed. This makes sure that the proper people are alerted when they need to be.

Some businesses also organize employees who are emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or who are CPR-trained with their security departments.

These employees are volunteers, which would address Mary’s concern that some employees would not be comfortable with the responsibility of using an AED. Lastly, the AED will not deliver a shock to a patient who will not benefit from it, so there’s no chance of harming someone.

I’m confident that with the combination of on-site AEDs and CPR volunteers and police and rescue squad response, the employees and visitors to the East Brunswick municipal complex will be well-protected in the event someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest.

Lisa Grande


East Brunswick Rescue Squad