Giving heart attack victims a better chance to live

July 27, 1995|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

The firefighters at the Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Station are on the lookout for new medical equipment that will help them help give heart attack victims a better chance to survive.

And there's a good chance they will get it, thanks to the county budget and corporate grants.

The budget adopted by the County Council in May includes $119,140 to place automatic external defibrillator machines (AED), which use electrical shocks to re-start a heart stopped by cardiac arrest, in each of the county's 29 fire stations by January 1996.

In addition, Prudential health insurance announced yesterday a $200,000 grant to help put 80 of the machines in the hands of volunteer firefighters across the state.

The insurance company made the announcement at a press conference, which Gov. Parris N. Glendening attended, at the Earleigh Heights fire station on Ritchie Highway yesterday.

Although the grant is aimed at volunteer departments that don't have the machines, Stephen D. Halford, the county administrator, said he hopes the county will be able to take advantage of the program.

"With this program, the volunteer fire stations can buy even more machines," he said.

An Earleigh Heights spokesman said the company is anxious to get one.

"We are definitely interested," said William Smith, the fire company's secretary. "We had discussed purchasing one ourselves, but now that this is going to be available, we're going to look into this program. It'd be nice to have one on all four pieces of equipment out there."

Maryland is one of eight states chosen by the insurance company to expand a program that they began last year in New Jersey, where its corporate headquarters are located. The same program also was launched in Ohio yesterday, and is expected to be announced in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas over the next several months.

Maryland volunteer fire companies may begin applying for grants next week, said Dr. Michael Montijo, Prudential's chief medical officer.

After a fire company applies, it must raise approximately $2,500, half the cost of the machine, within six months, then send firefighters through four hours of training to be able to use the equipment.

Dr. Montijo said having an AED machine on fire trucks can mean the difference between life and death for heart attack patients.

"Emergency medical personnel can more than double the chances of survival for victims" by using a defibrillator within minutes of an attack, he said.

Earleigh Heights paramedic R. Chadwick Courtney agreed.

"These machines are going to save thousands of lives," he said.

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