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CCRI expanding number of automated
external defibrillators on campuses

May 21, 2015

Sharyn M. Vicente, an information services technician in the Nursing Department, teaches chief accountant Paul Rylander and adviser Catherine Sheehan how to use an automated external defibrillator. Sharyn M. Vicente, an information services technician in the Nursing Department, teaches chief accountant Paul Rylander and adviser Catherine Sheehan how to use an automated external defibrillator during a Professional Development Day workshop this spring.

According to the American Heart Association, a victim of a heart attack's chance of survival lessens by 7 to 10 percent with each minute that passes without defibrillation. Although the Community College of Rhode Island has always had automated external defibrillators (AEDs) on its campuses for use by certain personnel, a recent initiative has increased the number available and is making them accessible to the public.

"Public access to AEDs has been a progressive movement going on throughout many communities," said Joe Arsenault, assistant professor, interim Fire Science/EMT program director and Emergency Management/Homeland Security program director.

Arsenault said President Ray Di Pasquale charged the college's Emergency Response Committee with making CCRI one of these communities, and the committee has put a great deal of work into designating centralized, accessible locations for the machines. "It's a team effort, and it was really valuable having everyone's input," he said.

Twenty-six of the new AEDs will be installed throughout the four campuses in addition to the eight defibrillators already in operation. "We want them to be seen, so that people know they are available," said Arsenault. "They're in nice, secure boxes with an alarm on them – that way, if they get opened, people will know there is an emergency and can come assist."

The AEDs will be clearly marked, and are located primarily around main entrances near elevators, as well as in the field houses at the Flanagan and Knight campuses and the Bobby Hackett Theater at the Knight Campus. Arsenault explained that while AEDs have been kept in the field houses and College Police offices for some time, they were not quickly accessible in case of an emergency.

The day care centers at the Liston and Knight campuses also will have new AEDs installed with special pads for children, and the Municipal Police Academy at the Flanagan Campus has requested additional signs that one is available inside its offices. "We're not the first to do this, but I'm glad we're doing it," he said.

Photo of AEDPart of the rollout has included training; there were three workshops for faculty and staff on Professional Development Day this spring.

But the committee has envisioned a much larger effort to organize trainings for students on each campus. The AEDs also will be included in the CPR training classes the Nursing Department runs; Arsenault pointed out that all health science students and faculty are already trained in defibrillation.

Heidi Warner, who coordinates the Nursing labs, said the importance of CPR training can't be overstated. "CPR can keep oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs. According the American Heart Association, immediate CPR can double or even triple a victim's chance of survival," she said, adding that CCRI offers about 44 classes a year that provide a two-year certification, which costs $45.

While CPR is a vital component of safety at the college, the AEDs will hopefully continue to amp that up, said Arsenault. "It's the vision of our president to have everyone trained in the use of these AEDs, and the committee wants to support that mission," he said.

By design, the new AEDs are equipped with technology meant to almost walk a user through the process, explained Arsenault. The machines won't shock someone if they detect a heartbeat, he said, so certain safeguards are in place. Nevertheless, it's important that they remain accessible even to the uninitiated person.

"If you see an unresponsive person, immediately call 911 and seek other people for help; someone might be trained on the device. But if all else fails, these devices are designed to be easy to use. It will talk you through the process. Defibrillation is the only proven methodology to reverse cardiac arrest in certain arrhythmias. People have been saved with this technology," he said.

Arsenault said that the college would also work with local fire departments and emergency medical service providers to give emergency dispatchers the exact locations of the AEDs; that way, when someone calls 911, he or she can be directed to the nearest machine.

Finally, looking ahead to September as part of National Preparedness Month, the college will conduct large "hands-only CPR" classes on every campus to help promote the American Heart Association-approved CPR program to the community.Share this story


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Last Updated: 8/25/16