The Westerly Ambulance Corps Inc., in partnership with WesterlyAED and HEARTSafe Charlestown-Westerly, has launched an interactive map detailing the exact locations of automated external defibrillator machines in locations in Westerly, Stonington, North Stonington, Hopkinton, Charlestown and Richmond.
The map, which allows people to search by location and click on reference points in their area, details important data including whether the AED is accessible 24 hours per day and what business or organization maintains the device. The map was generated using a regional AED registry maintained by area ambulance services and will be updated as new AEDs are introduced to the region, officials said.
“Science shows early defibrillation and strong effective CPR are the key to surviving cardiac arrest, Westerly Ambulance strives to make sure that our presence in the community remains strong after 100 years,” said Ken Richards III, EMS Administrator for the Westerly Ambulance Corps. “This initiative is another step to solidify our commitment to providing the best absolute care for our neighbors.”
Richards said the effort is part of a public awareness campaign to provide heart-healthy decisions and safety throughout the community.
Having access to an AED, especially when a heart emergency first occurs, can mean the difference between life and death, Richards said, and knowing where one is can greatly enhance early response.
There are now over 1.2 million AEDs available in public places throughout the U.S., according to the American Heart Association, and they are needed more than ever before. Of the more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that occur in the United States each year, more than 100,000 happen outside the home. Less than half, 45.7 percent, get the immediate help they need before emergency responders arrive, in part because emergency medical services take, on average, between four and ten minutes to reach someone in cardiac arrest.
HEARTSafe Advocate David Hiltz, of Code One Training Solutions, said in a Facebook post designed to share and spread the map and its information that improving public knowledge is essential in helping to improve community response and help save lives.
“Regretfully, public access defibrillators are underutilized in a majority of cases,” he said. “Contributing factors include a lack of devices, but also a lack of awareness and in some cases a lack of public knowledge and confidence in using a defibrillator.”
Richards said the mapping project is an important step in improving rapid defibrillation in our communities but noted that the public also needs to consider other factors including learning CPR. He said Westerly Ambulance works with residents to provide CPR training and encourages anyone interested to visit westerlyambulance.org for more information.
In addition, businesses and organizations who add an AED to their facility can have it added to the map by emailing email@example.com. The interactive map is available at https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?usp=sharing&mid=1XDsIKWvf2XuofewjvxbigtK_gHTU8ipm.
“It could be your family or neighbor who goes into sudden cardiac arrest. Knowing how to help them survive is key to response and CPR is that key,” Richards said.