Life-saving AEDs added at UT Martin
Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 10:18 am
The Messenger 02.03.10
Dr. Eric Walker hoped to make an impact as a first-year University of Tennessee at Martin faculty member.
Little did he know his idea to place Automated External Defibrillators around campus would become a reality and bring the life-saving devices to the university.
Thanks to his suggestion, the devices, known as AEDs, are now installed and available at 12 campus buildings. The American Red Cross defines defibrillation as “an electrical shock that may help the heart resume an effective rhythm for a person in cardiac arrest.” In cases of cardiac arrest, the Red Cross reports that AEDs are proven more effective in saving lives than CPR alone.
“The AED analyzes the patient and tells if a shock is necessary to restore heartbeat,” said Ted Council, UT Martin safety officer, who leads the campus AED efforts. “If you can push the button and turn it on, that’s all you need to do (after proper training). It (the AED) walks you through what to do.”
Walker, who teaches plant science, became interested in how many people either experience sudden cardiac arrest or have risk factors for this condition. He searched the Internet and read all that he could about sudden cardiac arrest, the effect of delayed treatment and the use of CPR alone or combined with defibrillation. The abundance of evidence supporting AEDs convinced Walker the devices would fill an important safety need at UT Martin.
He first contacted Council and then sent a detailed e-mail message outlining his idea to Dr. Jerry Gresham, interim dean for the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. To his surprise, it wasn’t long before AEDs were being purchased. The units cost $919 each.
“I could not believe how fast everyone moved on this,” Walker said. “Really all I did was just write a letter and passed it to somebody who got things going.”
To date, 39 staff and faculty members, all university police officers and all Office of Campus Recreation student workers have completed AED and CPR training. Charlie Rayburn, who teaches health and human performance and has conducted AED and CPR training for many years, provides the instruction.
“When the AEDs came out for public use, those of us that were teaching CPR and first aid had to go back and get re-trained on the use of the AED,” he said. “About the same time period, new standards for giving CPR were also coming out, so we were able to get certified in both areas.”
While many on campus were previously certified in using AEDs and administering CPR, Rayburn has recently taught others who had no previous certification. He’s impressed with the enthusiasm that he’s seen for learning these life-saving measures.
“I am a true believer that everyone should know what to do in emergency situations,” he added. “Not only can you learn to help yourself, but you can help family members, friends, co-workers and even a perfect stranger.”
Walker believes that his vision to see AEDs in every campus building will someday happen. He knows that a significant monetary cost is involved, but to Walker and many others, it’s a small price to pay in saving lives and making UT Martin a safer campus.