PORTLAND — Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) save lives if used minutes after a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).

Because many areas in Maine are too remote for emergency responders to arrive fast enough, MCD Public Health (MCDPH) has set a goal to install at least 400 AEDs by 2018 in partnership with the Maine Cardiovascular Health Council. In addition, MCD Public Health will work with local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to train local residents in Maine’s most rural counties how to use and maintain them.

In a report just released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), AEDs top the list of must-have life-saving equipment for communities, businesses and EMS providers across the United States.

According to Kate Perkins, director of MCD Public Health (MCDPH), the Maine Cardiovascular Health Council is well on its way to reaching that goal across rural Maine.

“The IOM report may have just been released, but MCDPH and the Maine Cardiovascular Health Council, along with more than 280 Maine HeartSafe Communities started an aggressive education and fundraising campaign months ago to place AEDs in rural communities across Maine,” said Perkins. “We are proud that MCDPH has a head start on key steps in this important report.”

Eleven out of Maine’s 16 counties are classified as rural, where it is often difficult to get timely emergency help for Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Rural regions in Maine are home to thousands and attract thousands more hikers, snowmobilers, rafters, outdoorsmen and tourists every year. According to the IOM, “some high-performing communities in the United States have reported survival rates of more than 60 percent for specific types of cardiac arrest, which indicates that saving more lives is possible.”

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a leading cause of death in adults over 40 in the United States, claiming 326,000 annually. Nine out of 10 victims die. According to the Institute of Medicine, quick action can dramatically increase the likelihood of survival without disability. Without treatment within 10 minutes, the survival rate is almost zero. As a result, the IOM strongly recommends educational campaigns and an increased investment in AEDs.

“SCA affects seemingly healthy individuals of all ages, races, and genders, often without warning,” said Tina Love, RN, AED project manager. “We are on a mission to provide the tools and the education that will undoubtedly save lives in Maine.”

To learn more, or contribute to this effort, visit www.mcdph.org/donations.

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