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Lower Burrell post to raise money for defibrillators

| Friday, July 6, 2007

The Lower Burrell American Legion post wants to ensure that its community is ready if a person is having a heart attack.

Legion officials have begun a campaign to raise money to buy defibrillators and then donate them to local individuals and groups.

They gave away their first last week, to Constable Brian Barbieri.

A defibrillator is a portable device that can shock the heart if a person goes into cardiac arrest, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The first four minutes after a heart attack are the most important because the chances of survival decrease by 10 percent every minute after that, said Dave Silliman, vice president of PA Lifeservers, which sold the device to the local American Legion.

Despite an ambulance crew's best efforts, it is frequently impossible to reach a patient in the first four minutes, making the defibrillator a vital tool.

One device costs $1,800, said Silliman.

Marty Seitz, commander of Robert L. Davies American Legion Post 868, the Lower Burrell post's formal name, said the club used its general fund to purchase two defibrillators; one for the legion and one as a donation.

He said the Lower Burrell post is the only Legion in the Alle-Kiski Valley to have the life-saving device.

Seitz said it was natural to buy a machine for the American Legion since most of the members are older.

"You never know when you are going to need it," he said.

Seitz said they had initially planned to donate the second defibrillator to a local fire department or the city police. However, all of the fire stations already carry the devices and police officers arrive with an ambulance.

Now the post is looking to donate to individuals or groups who need the defibrillators but can't buy one on their own.

Seitz said the constable was an obvious choice because he is a Legionnaire.

Barbieri said he is happy to have received the defibrillator because of his line of work.

"I come across the general public everyday," Barbieri said. "Although I have never had a situation where I needed to use it, I am happy to have one."

Barbieri will carry the defibrillator in his work van.

Seitz said the donations process will be handled by the Sons of the American Legion in the future. The group, which has about 130 members, will form a committee that will handle applications for defibrillators. The Sons of the American Legion will donate the devices as money is raised.

He said they want to keep their donations local.

Jessica Turnbull can be reached at jturnbull@tribweb.com.

Additional Information:

Lesson that could save a life

The Lower Burrell American Legion is holding free classes to teach how to use an automatic defibrillator.

The class is for Legion members only.

The first is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the American Legion Post 868, 206 Wildlife Lodge Road, Lower Burrell

Future training sessions may be open to the public for a minimal fee.

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