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Rotary Club donates defibrillator to Elizabeth Forward EMS vehicle

Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Elizabeth Rotary president Sam Frost presents an automatic external defibrillator for use in the Allegheny County EMS MCU-3 vehicle to Elizabeth Township EMS paramedic Capt. Dwayne Beere and paramedic Steve Astalos.

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By Tim Karan
Thursday, July 3, 2014, 3:46 a.m.

The Rotary Club of Elizabeth has made a vital donation to the Elizabeth Township EMS, but it's one first responders hope they never need to use.

The Rotary presented the EMS, based along Swiss Way in Swiss Alpine Village, with a brand new Phillips HeartStart FRx defibrillator for its Mass Casualty Unit vehicle — one of six trucks and trailers strategically positioned throughout Allegheny County for use in the most dire of circumstances.

Elizabeth Township EMS Chief Chris Dell said the Mass Casualty Unit primarily serves as a mobile command center and rehabilitation unit for emergency personnel who require their own medical attention at the site of major incidents.

“By way of that unit, we provide rehabilitation support, medical evaluations and hydration for firefighters, EMS workers and police who need it,” Dell said. “When the Rotary asked if there was anything we needed in particular, we wanted something like this (automatic external defibrillator) that will help other community services, too.”

Dell said although every other Elizabeth Township EMS vehicle is already outfitted with its own defibrillator, MCU-3 — made available through a joint project between the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Allegheny County Emergency Services — needed its own AED in case of a serious emergency.

“There's always an ambulance out with the MCU unit, but if the ambulance had to leave the scene to transport a patient, we still wanted to have an AED in case we needed it,” Dell said. “Right off the bat, this donation enabled us to upgrade the license for the unit from a basic life support squad vehicle to one with an AED license.”

The vehicle — which typically gets deployed about two or three times per month — is equipped with a refrigerator, tents, medical equipment, cooling fans, misting fans, generators, portable heaters and other equipment associated with scene command and control. Dell said it most recently was used for a house fire along Turkeyfoot Road in Elizabeth Township, but notes that it's available for use anywhere in Allegheny County and beyond.

Sam Frost, president of the Rotary Club of Elizabeth, said donating the AED is just one of the many ways the organization tries to better the community.

“We heard the EMS needed this for their truck and we wanted to make sure they got it,” Frost said. “That's what the Rotary does: find ways to help out wherever we can. The (MCU) covers a lot of people, and you never know when you might be the one who needs it. Even if this saves just one life, you can't put a price on what that's worth.”

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or

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