The Portage Area Ambulance Association distributed dozens of AED devices to local organizations on Tuesday after raising almost fifty thousand dollars.
In early January, Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest after sustaining a hit during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Cardiac Arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping, which can prevent blood from flowing to the brain and other organs. He was treated immediately with CPR along with an AED, or an automated external defibrillator, a device used to help those experiencing cardiac arrest. After this incident, Portage Area Ambulance decided to distribute free AED’s to be placed throughout football & baseball fields in Cambria County.
“We have always thought there should be an AED in field, After Hamlin went down it was the time. Everybody was familiar with AED’s and CPR and that’s what made him survive It’s not so much the force of the hits you take to the chest, it’s where in the chest that hit happens. What it does is it puts the heart in a lethal rhythm.”
According to the University of Washington, the likelihood of survival almost doubles when an AED is on hand.
“You think about it and then you think it’s not going to happen here, We just kind of thought that it could happen here. This is one of those things you purchase that you hope you never use.”
An incident requiring an AED on a sports field did happen last summer in Ebensburg. During a softball tournament a patron suffered a heart problem but the nearest AED was hundreds of yards away. Paramedics got to the victim first before the AED was brought in.
“To have them within a few steps of the field is definitely very important and that’s the reason why we wanted to make sure we had one in each location, Time is so important when it comes to someone when they are having an issue. If you’re not 100% sure what it is, you have the AED there to be able to use it and hopefully save someone’s life until the paramedics do get there.”
More than 20 organizations will receive an AED. They’ll be installed in the coming weeks while training takes place.