This column in Attraction, by Amelia Blades Steward, visits the faces of those who have benefited from the generous and tireless work of the nonprofits on the Mid Shore or are one of the organizations giving back in unique ways to better our world. She has been a freelance writer in our community for over 20 years and offers a glimpse into the lives of residents on the Mid Shore whom she has met along the way.
The Talbot County Paramedic Foundation was formed in the 1980s to support efforts to establish advanced life support throughout Talbot County. As that dream became a reality, the Foundation turned to other projects to support emergency medical services for county citizens. This year, the Foundation’s annual fund drive will address replacing 125 of the original 220 automatic defibrillators (AEDs) primarily located in businesses and other community facilities throughout the county for the public to access in case of an emergency.
“The defibrillators are over 10 years old and are due for replacement. Funds will provide grants to assist with the purchase of replacement units and to purchase additional defibrillators for new locations. The Foundation’s goal is to raise approximately $120,000 for this endeavor. With help from the Talbot County Council, we want to try and eliminate extra expenses for businesses and nonprofits who participate in the replacement program,” comments Wayne Dyott, President of the Talbot Paramedic Foundation.
“Public access to AEDs is important in saving lives. Statistically speaking, for every minute without CPR, your chances of brain death increases by 10%. The national response time for ambulances is around seven minutes. It is Talbot County’s goal to be on the scene of an incident within seven to eight minutes. So, if you put that in perspective, waiting for an ambulance means the possibility of brain death for a cardiac patient increases to 70-80%. That’s why AEDs in public places are so incredibly important,” comments Rachael Cox, a paramedic and the AED and CPR Program Coordinator for Talbot County Emergency Medical Services, who helps manage the placement of AEDs in Talbot County.
This year, Talbot County is replacing the current LifePack 500 AEDs with LifePack CR2 Model AEDs. The cost of the new AEDs is $1,600 apiece. For businesses and organizations replacing their units, the cost will be reduced by two-thirds with a credit toward the trade-in of their old device with help from the Paramedic Foundation and the Talbot County government.
The Talbot Paramedic Foundation just replaced 13 AEDs for the Sheriff’s Office for all of their vehicles with support from VFW Post 5118. All of the fire companies in Talbot County are also equipped with AEDs on their equipment.
Wayne adds that to further address the response time to a cardiac event, the Talbot Paramedic Foundation has adopted the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Gold Standard of placing AEDs Save Stations in the county’s public parks and recreational areas. The first park to be outfitted with AEDs was North Park in Easton, which received four units.
“This means that the public can access an AED in any location at North Park within three minutes – meeting the AHA’s Gold Standard,” Wayne states.
The Paramedic Foundation has identified 25 locations in Talbot County to place AED Save Stations. The cost at each location is $5,250. Team Trace Foundation, a local foundation that funds congenital heart disease research, is currently partnering with the Talbot County Department of Emergency Services to place AEDs at these local sports fields and is currently working to install more AEDs in local schools. The next project will be to install two units at Idlewild Park in Easton.
“Because the Save Stations require utility hook-ups, Talbot Paramedic Foundation wants to particularly thank Easton Utilities, who runs power to the units, and Gunther’s Electric of Wye Mills who donates all of the electrical installations for the Save Stations,” Wayne adds.
Through her role at Talbot County Department of Emergency Services, Rachael is also reaching out to new businesses and organizations for placement of new AEDs, focusing on isolated areas of the county and highly populated areas, as well as in places where a large number of people gather.
“There have been several advancements over the years in technology. The newer units are very user-friendly as they speak to the user and tell them what to do. Also, our 911 dispatchers are well trained and teach people how to do CPR over the phone,” she adds.
“Along with our AED program, we do a lot of public outreach by providing CPR training for the community. AED and CPR training are free when a business or organization purchases an AED through us.”
To date, six lives have been saved in Talbot County because of public access AEDs. “The need is so great, and technology is changing every day. Talbot County government alone cannot sustain the costs involved in keeping up with these advancements. We hope people can see by contributing to our annual campaign that they will be making a difference by helping to save lives,” comments Wayne.
He shares that in the future, with technological advancements happening so quickly, AEDs will be on every street corner. In addition to placement of AEDs in Talbot County, the Paramedic Foundation has supported such projects as community smoke detector placements and scholarships, and financial support for training opportunities for EMTs and Paramedics. The foundation has also worked with the Talbot County Department of Emergency Services and the Talbot County Council to acquire equipment for county ambulances that feature major technology upgrades such as new automatic monitor-defibrillators, video laryngoscopes and, most recently, ultrasound equipment.
Donations can be made to Talbot Paramedic Foundation, P.O. Box 2237, Easton, Maryland 21601, or by contacting Wayne Dyott at 410-310-3921or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information about Talbot County Paramedic Foundation, visit talbotparamedicfoundation.org. To purchase an AED for a business or nonprofit organization, individuals are encouraged to contact Rachael Cox at email@example.com or call 443-239-6999.