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Campus gets to the 'heart' of life-saving with AEDs

Everyone on campus has the power to save a life. Over the next few years, the campus's 63 buildings will be equipped with a total of 192 automated external defibrillators (AED) funded by a State University of New York (SUNY) program.

As of mid-July, approximately 20 machines have been installed in locations such as McKenna Theatre, Parker Theatre, Haggerty Administration Building and the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art. Of the 20, there are approximately six mobile units that can be transported by University Police or used by Athletics on fields and courts. Another 10 are scheduled to be put in place by year's end.

The university system must comply with a New York State Office of General Services (OGS) regulation that states that all state-owned buildings must be equipped with on-site cardiac AEDs that are accessible to the public.

An in-house training AED/CPR certification program was also developed by SUNY under the guidance of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Stony Brook School of Medicine.

The training program was approved by the New York State Department of Health in 2006 and is available to all SUNY employees and students at no charge.

"The program provides staff with an excellent opportunity to learn skills that could be used to save the life of a colleague, family member or loved ones," said Steven Smith of the Department of Hospital and Clinical Services at SUNY.

In 2006, SUNY issued a program plan that outlined an implementation strategy for the entire system. Smith said that approximately 3,000 AEDs will be installed on the 31 state-operated campuses.

Campus coordinators like Brian Colandrea, director of Environmental Health and Safety at New Paltz, completed a Web-based questionnaire developed by SUNY to determine how many devices were needed, where they would be located and in what order they would be installed.

Funding for the AEDs, which is limited to the number of devices articulated in each campus's survey results, comes from the State of New York. Smith, whose department orders and ships the machines, said each device costs approximately $950. SUNY adopted a system-wide standard and all campuses will use the same model: the Powerheart AED G3 produced by Cardiac Science.

At New Paltz, the Environmental Health and Safety Office is working with Facilities Maintenance to install the devices housed in unlocked cases.

SUNY has established an online tracking system to monitor maintenance of the machines, which Colandrea said his department will soon begin using.

Kathryn Vacca, assistant director of Environmental Health and Safety, said people should learn these skills because every minute that passes from the moment of collapse until defibrillation is administered reduces the chance for survival by 7 to 10 percent.

A number of New Paltz departments, including University Police and Athletics, will offer AED/CPR training. Training is recommended, but not required, said Colandrea. He added that the machines "speak" to those using them and there are visual instructions on the device. Also, a person who attempts to aid a person in danger is protected by the Good Samaritan Law.

To sign up for training, contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office at x3310.