Help get more AEDs where they’re needed | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

My husband and I recently joined 18 other community-minded islanders to complete an intense and rewarding 80-hour first responder training. While the course was offered at a discount, we spent hundreds of dollars for this learning opportunity and many of us are now purchasing our own medical equipment so that we can try to help our neighbors in the event of an emergency.

One important piece of information we took away from the class concerned the critical lifesaving capabilities of AED’s (Automated External Defibrillators). The chances of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest with CPR alone vary from 2 percent to 18 percent — pretty dismal statistics. However, if a cardiac arrest patient is given CPR plus treatment with an AED within the first 3 to 4 minutes of the event, the chances of survival can rise to 70 percent to 80 percent. Obviously, an AED must be nearby and easily accessible.

I downloaded a free cellphone app called PulsePoint, which identifies AEDs closest to you and also allows you to search for AEDs in any location covered by the app.

I was heartened to discover that the small business district of Lynwood Center has two AEDs (inside the Marketplace and outside Lynwood Theater), Battle Point Park has three AEDs, and Winslow has dozens (including Town & Country and Blackbird Bakery).

However, the spread-out Island Village Shopping Center, containing the large anchor stores Rite Aid and Safeway, has only one AED (thank you, Westside Pizza). You could also run across High School Road to the Marshall Suites Hotel for another AED.

I spoke to representatives at both Rite Aid and Safeway, and tried to explain the important community service of providing easily accessed AEDs inside their doors (alongside the fire extinguishers, for example). Since older populations frequent both of those stores, a readily available AED could save a life. Sadly, neither store expressed much interest in this idea, and in one case, I was told just to call the fire department if I witnessed a heart attack (of course, a good idea). But without AED-assisted CPR, by the time the fire department had arrived, the patient would most likely be dead.

Please speak to managers at Rite Aid and Safeway and strongly encourage them to provide AEDs to our community. We give these stores a great deal of our business. They can give back to us a life-saving device.

SARAH PEARL

Bainbridge Island

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