News

Health centers get safer

By PAT JENKINS

Editor

Public health centers in Federal Way and nine other King County locations are safer places for cardiac arrest victims with the addition of portable devices to put the beat back in hearts.

Automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) will be in the centers, waiting for people –– trained or untrained –– to use in an emergency, Seattle-King County Public Health Department officials said.

They said the goal is to further improve chances of survival of heart attacks countywide by having AEDs in as many public places as possible.

The Health Department’s centers in Federal Way –– where officials Wednesday announced the installation of more AEDs –– Auburn, Northshore, North Seattle and Eastgate now have the devices. By the end of October, five more clinics in White Center, Renton, downtown Seattle and the Columbia and Alder Square areas will also be equipped.

There are now 735 AEDs throughout the county, up from 474 in 2002.

Federal Way is familiar with AEDs partly through Project Jean, a community drive to place the devices in public places.

The local campaign began after the death of a high school swimmer in 2000. Jean Sanson of Thomas Jefferson High suffered a sudden and fatal cardiac arrest while competing in a school swim meet.

Since then, fund-raising has led to the purchase and installation of several AEDs at public sites in Federal Way, including Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatics Center.

Estimated survivability is as high as 90 percent if a victim is defibrillated in the first minute.

AEDs allow bystanders to provide quick help while professional aid is still on the way. The devices are about the size of a laptop computer and weigh less than 10 pounds.

Unlike defibrillators used by firefighters and paramedics, AEDs are designed for use by people with minimal training and experience.

After it’s turned on, an AED tells the user where to put the pads on a victim’s bare chest. It analyzes the heart rhythm and determines whether the victim needs a shock, begins to charge and tells the user when to push the shock button. After three shocks, the user is directed to check the victim’s pulse and to begin CPR if there is no pulse.

AEDs “further enhance” the county’s “stellar record as one of the best places in the world to survive a sudden cardiac arrest,” said County Executive Ron Sims.

More than 1,100 people visit the 10 public health centers daily for medical care. Having AEDs at the clinics help them “be first-responders,” said Dr. Charissa Fotinos, medical director of community health services for the Health Department.

The department’s director, Dr. Alonzo Plough, who joined Fotinos, Sims and other officials for Wednesday’s press conference in Federal Way, said AEDs complement cardiopulmonary resuscitation training for medical personnel and the general public.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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