Where to put AEDs donated to Wilton?
First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice, along with representatives of Parks and Recreation, the Volunteer Ambulance Corps, and the police department, met last week with Norwalk Hospital paramedics to work on deciding where 20 bilingual public access automated external defibrillators (AEDs) donated to Wilton should go.
“We’re meeting again next week,” Vanderslice said at the Jan. 4 Board of Selectmen meeting. “In the meantime, we’ll be determining the appropriate locations for the AEDs.”
Public-access AEDs are intended for places like schools, athletic fields, and community centers, and town executives and emergency responders must decide how those donated to Wilton will be distributed.
The town already has approximately 35 AEDs in place at any given time, with five across playing fields during the lacrosse season. If all 20 donated are installed, that will bring the number roughly to 55.
Wilton is one of five communities sharing a gift of 100 AEDs from Westporters MaryGrace and Mark Gudis and Norwalk Hospital. The rest are going to New Canaan, Norwalk, Weston, and Westport, other municipalities that the hospital serves.
Last fall in Westport, a tragedy likely was averted by having a nearby AED, a portable device that delivers an electrical shock to a heart that is not beating, with the intent of restoring normal electrical activity so the heart will beat again.
On Oct. 23, a 17-year-old student experienced sudden cardiac arrest while at a sporting event at Staples High School. Mark Gudis, a Norwalk Hospital trustee and Staples parent, had an AED in his car and took immediate action while school athletic trainers and two parents performed CPR and called 9-1-1. The student survived.
Afterward, MaryGrace and Mark Gudis, together with Norwalk Hospital and the Norwalk Hospital Foundation, formed an awareness campaign to promote the need for more AEDs and CPR training in communities. It is through this initiative that the AEDs were donated.
At the Jan. 4 selectmen’s meeting, Dick Dubow wondered if the donors would be training town officials and members of the public to use the public-access AEDs. “Does the grant include training?” he asked.
“It’s pretty straightforward,” replied Vanderslice, “because these are going to be [publicly available] and the instructions are right on them, and you can’t mess up, they said. They said administering this [improperly] is better than doing nothing [at all].”
Dubow, however, took Vanderslice’s answer as all the more reason to educate the public. In his opinion, the public needs to know that it can do no wrong.
“I’d like some education for people to know that they can’t do anything wrong. The last thing we want is somebody sitting there looking at one and being hesitant to use it where it could save a life,” he said.
“Yes,” Vanderslice agreed. “We have to do some public outreach.”