ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Financial institutions, including creditunions, may soon be mentally filing AED in their lists of acronymsbetween ACH and ATM. Automated external defibrillators, or AEDs,are designed to help laymen save lives in case of sudden cardiacarrest. They're equipped with instructions and voice prompts tolead those on the scene through every step until professional firstresponders arrive. AEDs can be used to treat sudden cardiac arrest,which claims 340,000 lives a year. Experts say fewer than 5% ofsudden cardiac arrest victims survive. For each minute that passesbefore defibrillation therapy is applied, survival chances decreaseabout 10%. After 10 minutes, few attempts at resuscitation succeed.The devices are appearing on airplanes, in stadiums, senior citizenhousing complexes and other sites. Recently Alaska USA FederalCredit Union purchased 55 AEDs, at least one for every branch andadministrative office. Nancy Bear Usera, Alaska USA FCUspokesperson, says the credit union feels it is importantmanagement personnel be trained to handle emergencies that mightoccur in those facilities. For example, all senior managers arerequired to be CPR certified. “While CPR is a great second choice,AED is the best hope of getting someone stabilized,” Usera notes.“Like any other purchase, you need to do your due diligence to makecertain the company is going to be able to provide you with whatyou need when you need it and the quality you require. “There is noquestion this is not something that was done lightly. It takes acommitment, not only to having them but making sure the AEDs areproperly maintained and people are trained. People have to know notonly how to use the equipment, but how to respond in a more globalway.” Tracy Byers, director of business development at RoyalPhilips Electronics, underscores Usera's emphasis on training.Phillips makes the HeartStart OnSite Defibrillator purchased byAlaska USA FCU. “One of the challenges in using new technology likedefibrillators in the workplace is there are a lot of question ofquestions about how to do a program to protect employees andmembers in case of sudden cardiac arrest,” Byers says. “But beyondthat, how do I know where to put them? How do I know how many Ineed?” The American Heart Association recommends a victim of suddencardiac arrest receive defibrillation within three to five minutes.So the number and location depends not on the number of people inthe workplace, but the size of the workplace. How long does it taketo get an AED to the victim? It's been called the “drop-to-shock”time. AHA guidelines point to lobbies and main hallways as goodlocations. You probably want to forget about sticking one in aremote storeroom or basement. A study by the University of Iowa andthe University of Michigan Health System also looked atdefibrillators in the workplace. Researchers identified threecrucial factors that should drive where a defibrillator is placed:how many people are at the site, how long are they there, and arethey at risk for having cardiac arrest. For a credit union, thatsuggests a busy branch serving a high percentage of older memberswould be first choice as a defibrillator site. A student-run branchat a school wouldn't rank very high, even though New York State ismandating defibrillators in public schools. The Iowa/Michigan studyquestions that location, suggesting defibrillators are a goodinvestment if the specific site is expected to have at least onecardiac arrest every seven years. Otherwise the money,investigators say, would be better spent on improving local EMSservices. Another question, “How do I go about training?” So inaddition to the AEDs themselves, Philips offers support thatincludes planning and training, with consulting to select thenumber and location of defibrillators. Training covers policies andprocedures, such as who calls 911. Does the credit union have acurrent medical emergency response team in place, or will it relyon the general work population? What signs might be neededdirecting people to an AED? Philips partners with the AmericanHeart Association and the American Red Cross to provide training,or can arrange a train-the-trainer program. Even though the AEDdevices are designed to provide voice prompts all the way throughthe process, training builds confidence and cuts vital responsetime. Software is available to track all the maintenance componentssuch as periodic replacement of defibrillator pads and batteries,and when training should be refreshed. List price for the mostpopular Philips HeartStart AED is $1,195. Additional costs dependon the extent of the support package needed such as the number ofsoftware maintenance programs and the training program. “It's agreat signal to the community you are taking care of members andemployees,” Byers says. “More and more small businesses are puttingthese in place not only for their own use, but as part of a largercommunity defibrillation program. It's a good benefit to employeesand an increasingly important aspect of providing medical care.”-

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