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Callaway County EMS Partners with St. Peter Catholic Church to Implement Lifesaving Defibrillation P

Starting April 3, 2017, employees, clients and visitors of St. Peter Catholic Church and School will have a better chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) because of a newly installed automated external defibrillator(s) (AED(s)). The AEDs are part of the parish’s new public access defibrillation program, which trains parish staff and volunteers to recognize a cardiac emergency and use the device to shock the heart into a regular rhythm. “We want to be sure we can effectively respond to any medical emergency that happens on our property,” says school Principal Teri Arms.

Callaway County EMS Training Officer, Kelly Drennan presents a Zoll AED Plus to St. Peter School Principal, Teri Arms. St. Peter Catholic Parish recently partnered with Callaway County EMS to establish a public access defibrillation program.

More than 400,000 people suffer out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests annually in the US. Sadly, less than ten percent of those who suffer SCA outside the hospital survive. Cardiac arrest is a condition in which abnormal heart rhythms called arrhythmias cause the heart’s electrical impulses to suddenly become chaotic. When this happens, the heart stops abruptly, and the victim collapses and quickly losses consciousness. Death usually follows unless a normal heart rhythm is restored within a few minutes. Defibrillation, which means delivering an electric shock to the heart, is the only known treatment to restore the normal rhythm. For every minute defibrillation is delayed, the victim’s chances of survival go down by 10 percent.

According to a parish spokesperson, concern about being able to ensure quick defibrillation caused them to set up a public access defibrillation program. “In addition to our student population, we have a large congregation that includes many older members, so we worked with Callaway County Emergency Medical Services to set up our program,” said parish member and LPN Anita McGrath.

AEDs are safe and easy to use, making it possible for non-medical personnel to be trained to provide rapid defibrillation. More and more companies are taking this step since legislation providing limited liability for non-medical AED users is in place. The American Heart Association recommends that any facility in which large groups of people congregate consider establishing a defibrillation program. This is especially true in high-security companies, high-rise buildings, gated communities, sprawling manufacturing plants and remote sites. It is estimated that establishing these defibrillation programs could help save as many as 40,000 lives per year.

For more information on Public Access Defibrillation contact Callaway County Ambulance District at

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