AEDs More Prevalent on Campus

Wednesday 25, 2017

NMU has purchased 21 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) over the past year and installed them in campus buildings. The portable devices automatically diagnose life-threatening arrhythmias and deliver a dose of electric current to restore a regular heartbeat during the critical minutes before first responders arrive.  CPR/AED training is also available on campus to increase the number of people prepared to assist in cases of sudden cardiac arrest.

“Public Safety and Police Services patrol cars have been equipped with AEDs for a number of years and, more recently, Athletics purchased AEDs for their facilities, primarily because the NCAA requires them at all athletic practices and events,” said Mike Bath, director of Public Safety and Police Services. “It’s not a requirement to have them elsewhere on campus, but we had been talking about getting more for a while. When someone attending an NMU graduation ceremony was saved—fortunately a nurse and a paramedic were nearby—we got together and identified the funding to make it happen. We continue to review the need periodically.”

According to Mandy Magno, NMU occupational and environmental health specialist, there is an AED in most campus buildings. Student employees check their batteries and pads weekly and the company that installed and licensed them conducts annual inspections.

“We are also trying to figure out a way to provide CPR/AED training for all employees who would like it so they would feel comfortable using the devices in an emergency situation,” she said. “The more people we can prepare to help, the better.”

NMU’s American Heart Association (AHA) and Red Cross Training Centers, both located in the PEIF, offer professional- and layperson-level training sessions.  Some professions, such as nursing and education, require these types of certifications.

“An AED can be operated by someone with no medical background, but there are special circumstances that training can address, like someone suffering cardiac arrest in water or how to use an AED when someone has a hairy chest or a drug patch to work around,” said Barb Coleman, professor and AHA Center manager. “In a situation where someone’s just gone down, if a person can administer CPR after calling 911 while another person gets an AED that’s not too far away and can use that effectively, it’s awesome and can be life-saving.”

As AEDs become more commonplace throughout the United States, Bath said there is more awareness of their value and less reluctance to use them.

“People sometimes worry about intervening because they don’t want to risk doing more harm than good,” he said. “But an AED won’t allow you to administer a shock if one is not called for. AEDs, when used properly, are designed to diagnose the condition and determine whether an electrical current is required.”

All 50 states have Good Samaritan laws that protect laypeople from legal action for administering CPR or AED treatment. The American Heart Association reports people qualify as Good Samaritans if they’re trying to help, their actions are reasonable and they do not receive specific compensation for their lifesaving efforts.

According to the Red Cross, sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with more than 350,000 incidents projected this year. An AED is the only effective treatment for restoring a regular heart rhythm. For each minute defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival is reduced by about 10 percent.

Kristi Evans
News Director

AED in Cohodas Hall