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Making the case for AEDs

Yarmouth County resident Verna Wirth spoke about AEDs (automated external defibrillators) at the Jan. 9 meeting of Argyle municipal council.
Yarmouth County resident Verna Wirth spoke about AEDs (automated external defibrillators) at the Jan. 9 meeting of Argyle municipal council. - Eric Bourque

Device could make the difference in medical emergency, Argyle council told

Saying it could help save lives, a Yarmouth County resident is asking the Municipality of Argyle to consider developing a program that would increase public access to automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

She made the request at the municipality’s regular council meeting of Jan. 9.

Verna Wirth, who is involved in Wedgeport’s tuna museum, said she started thinking about AEDs when she saw the big crowds attending the community’s annual tuna festival each August.

It occurred to her that it would be good to have an AED at the tuna museum. Her proposal was brought to the museum and festival organizers, it was deemed a good idea and the museum acquired one of the devices last summer, prior to the 2017 festival.

“I kind of thought, you know, there’s a lot of people here (at the tuna festival),” Wirth recalled. She thought about how an AED could be critical in the event of a medical emergency.

She hopes the municipality will consider what it might be able to do to get more AEDs out there – perhaps by working with fire departments, businesses, community organizations – and to ensure that the location of the devices is known, particularly to emergency health responders.

Using the hypothetical case of an emergency at the tuna wharf, Wirth said, responders “could call the museum and say ‘hey, can you guys send somebody over with your AED while we’re inbound to this emergency?’ But if they don’t know where they (the AEDs) are, they can’t do it.”

An AED is a lightweight, portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart, potentially stopping an irregular heartbeat and allowing a normal rhythm to resume after sudden cardiac arrest. They are easy to use, Wirth said.

The AED purchased in Wedgeport cost about $2,000, including the cabinet in which it’s kept, she said, adding that such a device itself likely would be closer to $1,800. That it could save someone’s life makes it worth it, she said.

Referring to the positive response she got from Argyle councillors after speaking to them at their Jan. 9 meeting, she said, “There was definitely support for it. It’s just, I think, staff needs to go back and now figure out the mechanism of how they’re going to start a committee.”

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