About 20 AEDs (automated external defibrillators) have been installed in area Wilton, donated by MaryGrace and Mark Gudis of Westport. An AED is a portable device that delivers an electrical shock to a heart that is not beating with the intent of restoring normal electrical rhythm so that the heart will beat again.

Following a near tragedy last year in Westport that underscored the importance of having AEDs accessible in public places, the Gudis family partnered with Norwalk Hospital to donate 100 AEDs for distribution in Wilton, Norwalk, New Canaan, Westport, and Weston.

Norwalk Hospital Trustee Mark Gudis helped save the life of a 17-year-old student who experienced sudden cardiac arrest at a sporting event at Staples High School. Gudis, a Staples parent, had an AED in his car and took immediate action while athletic trainers and two parents performed CPR and called 9-1-1. The student made a full recovery.

Following this incident, Gudis said, “It was apparent that we need more AEDs in our schools, on our athletic fields and in our community centers and we were pleased to take the lead in this effort.” Staples High School’s Service League of Boys, including the young man whose life was saved, assembled and labeled all the AEDs and exterior cabinets for distribution to the local towns.

“We hope this initiative will inspire other communities to take the necessary steps to help ensure that there are more Heartsafe communities,” Mr. Gudis added.

The Gudis’ and Norwalk Hospital were recently awarded with the American Red Cross Hero Award for their recent initiative and pledge to develop more public-private partnerships within the communities.