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Pennsylvania Amish Receive AEDs

The simple, plodding horse and buggy clomping down your street might be concealing some surprisingly advanced technology.

Amish in Paradise Township, who generally shun technology, are learning how to save lives with automated external defibrillators, or AEDs.

More than 50 members of the rural community, about half of them Amish, recently participated in training to deliver a life-saving shock in the case of sudden cardiac arrest.

Volunteers were outfitted with 20 AEDs - dispersed across schools, barns, churches and, yes, even buggies - to cut down response time on the nation's leading cause of death.

"We took a group of people who are not exposed to computers, video games or automobiles, and within minutes they were able to follow the voice prompts of the AED," said James Weber of the Manheim Township Ambulance Association, who leads the training.

"One of the biggest tenets of the Amish is community service," he said.

"They reject technology, but they recognize sudden cardiac arrest is such a public health crisis they are stepping forward to serve as first responders."

First-responder training is particularly vital in rural Paradise, where the average emergency response time is 11 minutes, compared to a national average of nine, Weber said.

Plain sects account for nearly half of Paradise Township's residents. Weber has been working on a plan to get them involved with emergency response for eight months.

"They finally got to the point where they understood the practical value and they're now on board and responding to AED calls."

At the most recent training session, held July 29, Amish children as young as 7 learned CPR and AED response.

More than 300,000 Americans die each year from sudden cardiac arrest.



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