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Sewickley Township supervisors debate buying defibrillators

| Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Sewickley Township supervisors are considering using some of the $212,789 the community will receive from the state's Marcellus shale gas well impact fee to purchase life-saving devices for the township recreation center, four fire volunteer fire departments and municipal building.

At their meeting this week, the three supervisors did not support a request from fire company officials to purchase 14 automated external defibrillators — one for each emergency vehicle in the Hutchinson, Lowber, Herminie and Rillton fire departments.

The portable automated external defibrillator checks the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. AEDs are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Supervisors Wanda Layman and Joseph Kerber favored buying two of the devices for each department, while Supervisor Alan Fossi said he would buy just one AED for each department.

Fire department officials are concerned that some of the vehicles do not have AEDs, Fossi said. Two of the companies favor one AED model, and two fire companies wanted another, Fossi said.

Layman said she wants an AED for the municipal building, one for the township public works truck and one at the township recreation center. Fossi said he favors placing one device at the township garage, one in a township vehicle and two at the recreation center.

Kerber said he wants more information before making a decision on buying the devices. The cost of 14 AEDs could range from $20,540, as proposed by Zoll Medical Corp. of Chelmsford, Mass., to $30,302, as offered by Physio-Control Inc. of Redmond, Wash. Phillips Healthcare of Andover, Mass., quoted a price of $23,033.

Some features of the AEDs and the services offered differ among the vendors, Layman said. Zoll's device tells the user whether chest compressions they are giving a cardiac arrest victim are sufficient.

“That might save a life,” Layman said.

Herminie fire Chief Eric Kline, who did not attend the meeting, said it would be better for the fire companies to have an AED in every emergency vehicle because there are times when the device is needed and the vehicle with an AED is at another emergency scene. Kline said that happened recently when he responded to a call on Interstate 70 in the truck with an AED, and a call came for an AED on Clay Pike. The firefighters responded and performed cardio pulmonary resuscitation, Kline said.

“To me, it's not that expensive,” Kline said.

Kline said it is important to have an AED trainer device at the fire halls. The Herminie fire company uses a Phillips model.

“The biggest issue is the proper training,” Kline said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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