UF campus defibrillators may be hard to locate


Published: Friday, January 26, 2007 at 9:48 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 26, 2007 at 9:48 a.m.

Lifesaving defibrillators are available on campus, but the problem for some students and staff may be locating them in an emergency and then knowing what to do with them.

There is no university policy requiring Automated External Defibrillators or AEDs. Each department decides on its own if it wants one and the push to create awareness of them has yet to muster broad support, said Jon Duff, director of the University of Florida's Emergency Medical Training Center.

“We are trying to get everyone on the same page about risk management,” Duff said. “A lot of people don't know about it.”

The devices can be lifesaving. When referee Ron Siders collapsed during overtime at a Santa Fe High School girls' basketball game on Jan. 4, his heart was restarted with help from the AED.

Only a select number of departments have invested in AEDs and are providing training to staff members on how to operate the devices.

Currently AEDs are located in the stadium, all libraries, the UF golf course, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Phillips Center for Performing Arts.

UF's Department of Recreational Sports also boasts seven of them, said David Bowles, the department's director. They can be found at the Southwest Recreational Center, Student Recreation and Fitness Center, Broward Outdoor Recreation Complex, Florida Pool, O'Connell Center Pool, Lake Wauburg North Shore and Lake Wauburg South Shore.

“Our staff [members] are required to have CPR training,” Bowles said. “We make sure that where they are trained AED is included.”

The department even received an award from the American Heart Association, the Heart Ready Community Award, about a year ago. The local association nominated the division for the award after learning about the AED placement and training that had taken place, said Diane James, risk management and aquatics coordinator for the department of recreational sports.

Even so, Duff said his goal is to get grants to bring more AEDs on campus.

“If Alachua County schools can get grants, why can't UF?” Duff asked.

The Alachua County school system recently installed AEDs at all schools with the help of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida and the American Heart Association.

The AED works by providing electrical shock to the heart in order to re-establish a regular rhythm. AEDs cost anywhere from $900 to $3,000 and are easy to use. Studies have shown that 5- and 6-year-olds can even use the AED devices, Duff said.

Classes are offered on campus for credit and meet five times during the semester. The basic class covers cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR, AED and First Aid training.

Part of the syllabus includes identifying all AED locations on campus.

But students who don't take the class wouldn't know where to look for one in case of an emergency.

Melanie Johnson, a nursing senior, said she has no idea where any AEDs are located on campus. She added they need to be in a public place and easily accessible.

“If it's not in a place where you can reach it,” Johnson said, “it's almost pointless.”

When it comes to cardiac arrest, you don't have much time to act, Johnson said.

If an emergency does arise, health officials say the best way to approach the situation is to call 911 immediately.

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