PaperTexture - AEDs have been installed in nine Waukesha parks. Here's what you need to know.

AEDs have been installed in nine Waukesha parks. Here’s what you need to know.

Jim Riccioli: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

WAUKESHA – The idea of placing automated external defibrillators in local parks arose from a tragic source, the death of Waukesha North High School junior Kai Lermer nearly three years ago. His untimely death culminated in AEDs in nine parks, in a special enclosure that ensures they are operational year-round, which city officials said was key.

“Sudden cardiac arrest can strike anyone at any age,” said Joe Hoffman, an assistant fire chief for the city of Waukesha. “The (AED) program is part of the greater goal of the Fire Department and the city to make our community a safe and secure place for citizens and individuals who work and/or visit.”

Here’s what you need to know about the program and its applications.

Lermer, a well-conditioned football and track athlete, suddenly collapsed while playing pick-up basketball at Grandview Park on March 25, 2019. At the urging of Lermer’s parents, the city set into motion an effort to strategically place new AED units in its parks, adding a link into what health and safety officials call a “chain of survival.”

Where are AED units located and how do people access them?

All-weather AED enclosures and public-access AEDs are now in nine parks: Banting, Cutler, Grandview, Heyer, Lowell, Mindiola, the Rotary Building, Saratoga and WRO Complex. AEDS are also located in the Parks and Rec Building, Horeb and Buchner pools, the EB Shurts building and the Schuetze building, plus 10 other city buildings.

The network of AEDs in the city extends beyond public parks and buildings. More than 60 have been registered, and Hoffman said the fire department encourages anyone who has an AED to register it at the PulsePoint AED App,  (Also, anyone trained in CPR and who is willing to help a neighbor during a sudden cardiac arrest, can also download the PulsePoint App to receive alerts when someone is in a public place and potentially in need of CPR.)

“Better access to AEDs will lead to increased awareness, and potentially lead to actions and intervention during a sudden cardiac arrest,” Hoffman said.  Additionally, the PulsePoint AED App is linked up with CAD to aid in the locating of Community Access AEDs during an emergency.

Still, it’s important for people to keep in mind chain of survival links, in order, he added.

“Please remember that if someone is having a sudden cardiac arrest, the chain of survival is important,” starting with the 911 call, Hoffman said. “The City of Waukesha and Waukesha County Dispatchers are trained to provide CPR instructions over the phone to a caller, because CPR, even hands-only CPR, is the second link before the defibrillation link.”

Who are most likely to use (or need) them? 

Anyone can take it upon themselves to use at AED in an emergency, Hoffman said. “The device provides instruction on its use. Additionally, our dispatchers can provide directions over the phone, to prompt the caller on the AED use,” he said, noting that the fire department provides training for hands-only CPR and AED orientation for people who want to learn.

As for who might need AED assistance in city parks, or elsewhere, the case of Lermer made it clear that there’s no short answer. “Anecdotally, I remember a number of cardiac arrest calls occurring in city parks and facilities,” Hoffman said, who clearly recalled the Lermer incident in Grandview Park and similar incidents in the Schuetze building and near the Cutler Band Shelter after the Veterans Parade.

But, statistically speaking, people in non-hospital settings will most likely be at home (73.4%) when a cardiac arrest occurs. Public settings is second (16.3%), followed by nursing homes (10.3%), according to the American Heart Association.

The importance of AEDs can’t be overstated. Hoffman noted that the American Heart Association says nine out of 10 people who are suffering from cardiac arrest survive if they receive defibrillation within one minute of suffering cardiac arrest.

AEDs have been installed in nine Waukesha parks. Here’s what you need to know.
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