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Heart Safety

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
July 7, 2010

An emphasis on safety has led to the installation of additional automated external defibrillators (AED) at the university. The computerized AEDs can recognize a heart rhythm that needs a shock to return it to normal.

Working with the University Police Department’s Office of Emergency Management, UNH now has 25 AEDs located around campus at, among other places, Thompson Hall, Johnson Theater, Hamel Recreation Center and the MUB.

The AEDs can check a person’s heart rhythm. Audio and visual prompts aid users, telling them when a shock is needed and what steps to take to administer it.

“The machines are foolproof,” says Jim Lapolla, Homeland Security specialist/paramedic with the Office of Emergency Management. “They won’t give a shock unless they determine the person needs it. And they’re simple to use; if you can count to three, and see and hear, you can use it.”

Even still, training is recommended. Classes for UNH and UNHM community members are offered through the Office of Emergency Management in collaboration with the Durham Fire Department. A minimum of five people are needed to conduct the 2 ½ - 3 hour class on AEDs that includes CPR.

“This will be an ongoing project for years to come,” Lapolla says. “We are moving forward to make the community heart-safe.”

Most of the portable devices on campus are mounted in cabinets. When the cabinet door is opened, an alarm sounds, letting people know someone needs help. The battery powered machine then talks the user through the necessary steps, advising whether to administer a shock or not. If a shock is called for, it tells the rescuer when to stand clear.

“There is no risk to the person using the machine,” Lapolla says.

The American Heart Association recommends placing AEDs in targeted public areas such as sports arenas, entertainment venues, office complexes, doctors’ offices, shopping malls, etc. UNH decided where to install the additional AEDs (there have been some on campus since the early 1990s) through risk analysis, based on where large numbers of people gather.

AEDs have a lithium battery good for at least two years.

“This is a collaborative project with the Durham Fire Department, and UNH Energy and Campus Development-Division of Facilities Design and Construction,” said Paul Dean, deputy chief of police and director of emergency management.

The Office of Emergency Management has sole responsibility for selecting, purchasing, installing and training of all AED’s on UNH property. For questions about the CPR course, or the campus AED project contact James Lapolla at jlapolla@unh.edu.


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