Spirit of St. Louis: City’s AED Program Continues to Shine

St. Louis Lifesaving Foundation logo

Over the past decade, the city known as the “Gateway to the West” has earned another moniker: heart safe.

That’s because St. Louis’s (Mo.) Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) program, one of the largest PAD programs in the United States, has placed automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in city offices and buildings including the St. Louis public schools. The aim: reducing deaths from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), which kills more than 360,000 Americans each year.

It has also equipped police cars and fire department vehicles with AEDs that first responders can use to help SCA victims in the critical minutes before an ambulance arrives.

This comprehensive PAD program has its roots in a Fire Department commitment to public safety that goes beyond its own direct services. The St. Louis Fire Department works hand-in-hand with the nonprofit St. Louis Fire Department Lifesaving Foundation, which has brought in more than $2 million from granting agencies, corporations, and other donors to purchase emergency preparedness and emergency services equipment for the city. The foundation recently helped establish the Fire Department’s $500,000 Simulation Center, a state-of-the-art training facility for first responders.

“The Foundation’s goal is to strengthen the city’s Chain of Survival, which includes citizens, first responders, EMTs and paramedics, and hospitals,” said Foundation Executive Director Rebecca Davis.

Ned Fryer, Curt Engler, and Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson.Ned Fryer, Curt Engler, and Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson.

In the next few months the Foundation will be providing more than $175,000 to purchase some 160 additional AEDs for the city. The first goal is to replace aging units on Fire Department vehicles with Powerheart® G3 Pro and Powerheart G3 Plus AEDs. The second goal is to purchase Powerheart units for municipal buildings.

At the same time, the Foundation will be working with St. Louis businesses to teach hands-only cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). According to the American Heart Association, hands-only CPR, given immediately, will more than double the chances of survival for a victim of sudden cardiac arrest.

“The hands-only CPR trainings are a way to expand that link in the Chain of Survival,” Davis said.

A Cardiac Science representative will be be involved in the trainings at area business, demonstrating the use of another link — the AED.

“We will take advantage of the trainings to urge companies to purchase AEDs for their own buildings,” Davis said. “It’s an opportunity for a company to help protect its employees and its customers as well as to help the city fill the gaps in PAD coverage.”

The Lifesaving Foundation was created in 2002 by two St. Louis business leaders, Edwin “Ned” Fryer and Curtis Engler, both with a deep commitment to public safety. Fryer is a partner in a leading city law firm and also a paramedic. Engler is a sudden cardiac arrest survivor who was rescued by the St. Louis Fire Department using one of its AEDs.

Cardiac Science is the exclusive provider of AEDs and comprehensive AED/CPR training and AED program management for the St. Louis PAD program.