Back in March 2014; police in Newton, N.J., responded to a report than a man had been found in a high-rise apartment building, unconscious and with no pulse. The person who reported the incident began CPR, and officers arrived to take over within two minutes. They continued CPR and then pulled out their AED. The device recommended that a shock be given. Police reported that after four shocks, the victim revived and was able to breath on his own.
Stories such as this are becoming more commonplace in New Jersey thanks to the contribution of the Newton Medical Center Foundation, which has been at the forefront of AED awareness since its inception in 2001. In fact, more than 45 lives have been saved using automated external defibrillators (AEDs).
“Back in 2001, when the first-responder community found that AEDs were saving lives in the field, our board wanted to help our community acquire these,” said Jim Furgeson, director of community and donor relations for the Newton Medical Center Foundation. “We launched a program to provide AEDs to police departments, non-profits, and schools at a reduced rate, along with free training.”
The foundation’s program makes it possible for the organizations to buy an easy-to-use defibrillator for nearly 50 percent off the market price. Since 2012, the foundation has partnered with Cardiac Science to offer the Powerheart® G3 Plus AED.
Thus far, the Newton Medical Center Foundation program has trained more than 4,000 people and provided more than 400 AEDs. The program also provides physician oversight that is required for most non-profit and government AED programs.
Growing demand for AEDs in New Jersey
In 2012, the state of New Jersey enacted Janet’s Law, requiring schools to place AEDs in their buildings and sports fields by September 1, 2014. As schools hurry to comply with the new law, Newton Medical Center Foundation has received a record number of requests for AEDs — more than 80 in the first half of 2014.
“After Governor Chris Christie signed that AED legislation, our phones started ringing off the hook,” Furgeson said.
As community awareness of sudden cardiac arrest grows, the foundation and the towns it serves are recognizing the contributions of first responders trained in CPR and AED use.
In February of this year, the foundation honored EMS squads in the Sussex County area. In June, the town of Newton honored four police officers responsible for recent rescues. The town’s patrol cars are equipped with AEDs, enabling officers get an AED to the scene of an accident within a minute or two of the time when the 911 operator takes the emergency call.
Newton continues to expand its AED coverage, with planning to install AEDs in the town parks in the coming year.