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Teamwork Means AEDs on Every Block in Sedona

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Walking down the quaint main street of Sedona, Ariz. one might notice the unique shops and restaurants that line the sidewalks. One might also notice the abundance of prominently displayed automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

Sedona, which is about 5,000 feet above sea level, is a popular tourist destination with many outdoor activities. Because of its elevation, the city's EMS provider, Sedona Fire District (SFD), often responds to calls for altitude-related sickness from visitors.

"What happens is people live at sea level and they come here, and then they go out and overdo it," says Bill Boler, retired assistant EMS chief of SFD. "We see a lot of patients where the altitude has gotten to them."

So when the city of Sedona's board of directors started discussing the idea of having a public access defibrillator (PAD) program in 2001, SFD quickly got on board. SFD partnered with the Sedona Main Street Program to have 10 units installed on light poles along the Main Street area. SFD partnered with businesses and the city to place the AED_s in other public facilities, including clubhouses, stores, churches,„law enforcement„vehicles, ball fields and the community pool.

Throughout the SFD district, which includes the village of Oak Creek and more rural areas, 46 AEDs are installed. Forty were purchased by SFD and owners of area resorts, as well as through donations to SFD. Six more were later donated by„Lee Birch„in memory of her husband Si Birch, a former Sedona City Council„member, Boler says.

Funded throught tax dollars, the PAD program has been a five-year process, says Boler, who was assistant chief of EMS during this time. Sedona Street Department workers check the 10 city units daily to ensure they have not been removed from their boxes or tampered with, and SFD firefighters check weekly for operability. This includes running an internal computer check, making sure batteries work and replacing the pads when necessary. In addition to doing unit maintenance, SFD also offers training on how to use the AEDs to anyone who lives or works in the area.

Two-and-a-half years after they were installed,„the AEDs on the streets have yet to be used, Boler says -- although ones located in police vehicles, which are also part of the PAD program, have been used twice.

"We've been really happy. We haven't had any issues with them," Boler says. "It's been nothing but support with the whole program from the very beginning."

Click here to read more about treating cardiac patients and about CPR.

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