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News Release    

June 5, 2003

County Executive Steinhaus Announces
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 rhythm.

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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 Defibrillators.”

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.


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