June 5, 2003
Lifesaving Defibrillation Program Implementation In County Offices
Visitors to Dutchess County facilities and employees of the County will have
a better chance of surviving a cardiac arrest because of newly installed
Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). This program, initiated by Dutchess
County Executive William R. Steinhaus, brings together the Dutchess County
Department of Health, the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, Dutchess
Community College and the American Heart Association of Dutchess County. The
County Executive first designated this project as a critical initiative in
his 2002 State of the County Address. By implementing this Public Access
Defibrillation (PAD) program, the County joins a growing group of businesses,
employers and public entities around the nation who have added AEDs to their
public safety resources.
Under the direction of Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Caldwell, the Dutchess
County Health Department will place nine of these life-saving devices at
accessible locations in eight County office buildings. The buildings selected
are the most frequently accessed by the public and therefore, having this
life saving equipment installed will enable a timely response in the event of
a cardiac emergency. The first two units have been installed at the Dutchess
County Office Building, 22 Market Street, Poughkeepsie. One unit located on
the 1st Floor and another unit on the 6th Floor. The AED’s were placed in
these locations because of the large number of visitors to Motor Vehicle
offices and the Legislative Chambers where legislative meetings and public
hearings are held. The remaining units will be installed at other County
facilities in the City of Poughkeepsie at the Health Department building at
387 Main Street; the Department of Mental Hygiene complex at 230 North Road;
the Department of Social Services facility on 60 Market Street; the Family
Court building at 50 Market Street; and the County office facility located at
27 High Street. AED units will also be placed in the County Government Center
located at 223 Main Street in the City of Beacon and the Emergency Response
Center on Creek Road in the Town of Poughkeepsie. Each unit costs about
$2,300; the total cost of all the units is approximately $18,000 funded by
our Health Department.
Previous to this present initiative the 2001 and 2002 Executive Budgets,
County Executive Steinhaus directed funding for 53 AEDs that were purchased
by the County for Sheriff’s patrol vehicles. Having AEDs in Sheriff’s
vehicles stationed around the county provides 24/7 AED coverage.
To date, under the direction of Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson, all the
mobile AED units have been installed and all 150 Sheriff’s Deputies have been
trained to use this new equipment. Deputies are required to take an AED unit
along with them each time they go out on patrol.
“We want to be sure we can effectively respond to medical emergencies that
may occur in our facilities,” the County Executive stated. “Having trained
County employees equipped with AEDs in settings where large numbers of people
gather saves precious minutes and improves survival rates for cardiac arrest
victims. AEDs sited at public locations and in our Sheriff’s vehicles can
make the difference between life and death for our citizens,” Mr. Steinhaus
said. County employees who volunteer as ‘Lay Rescuers’ are trained in the
American Heart Association’s ‘Heartsaver’ AED course to recognize a cardiac
emergency and to use the equipment to shock the victim’s heart into a regular
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Sheriff Anderson added, “In many emergencies a Deputy Sheriff arrives on the
scene before Emergency Medical Services. The Sheriff’s Office is in a better
position to save lives by having patrol cars equipped with Automatic External
David Ringwood, Executive Director of the American Heart Association of
Dutchess County praised the County’s investment and commitment. “This
decision is a positive indication of the County’s leadership and dedication
to the health and safety of our citizens by strengthening the sudden cardiac
arrest ‘Chain of Survival’ in our county. We are pleased to be partnering
with Dutchess in this critical project,” Mr. Ringwood said.
Dutchess County Commissioner of Health, Dr. Michael C. Caldwell stated,
“Every year in our country almost 250,000 people suffer cardiac arrest and
only 5 percent of them survive. County Executive Steinhaus’ leadership on
this issue shows his concern that cardiac arrest is a significant public
health concern. During the first half of the year 2000 there were 83
incidents just in Dutchess,” Dr. Caldwell explained.
Cardiac arrest is a condition in which abnormal heart rhythms called
arrhythmias cause the heart’s electrical impulses to suddenly become chaotic.
When this happens, the heart stops pumping and the victim collapses, quickly
losing consciousness. Death usually follows unless a normal heart rhythm is
restored within a few minutes. Defibrillation, which delivers an electric
shock to the heart, is the only known treatment to restore the normal rhythm.
For every minute defibrillation is delayed, the victim’s chances of survival
decrease by 7-10 percent. AEDs now on the market are safe and easy to use,
making it possible for non-medical personnel to be trained to provide
defibrillation to victims quickly.
The American Heart Association recommends that any facility in which large
groups of people congregate consider establishing a defibrillation program.
This is especially true in high-security companies, high-rise buildings,
gated communities, sprawling manufacturing plants and remote sites. It is
estimated that establishing these defibrillation programs could help save as
many as 50,000 lives per year.