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HEART-RENDERING DEFIBRILLATORS PLACED AROUND CITY.

Byline: Susan Abram Staff Writer

SANTA CLARITA - Recognizing that an emergency can happen in a heartbeat, the city has contracted with a private company to install 13 defibrillators in several public areas.

Santa Clarita city officials offered a demonstration on Thursday of the Automated External Defibrillator or AED, a compact, computerized device used to administer an electric shock through the heart in sudden cardiac arrest victims.

Mayor Bob Kellar showed a group of fire, police and local health care officials how easily the AED is used by placing two thin sticky pads on a mannequin's chest. The device analyzed the ``victim's'' status and then a prerecorded message gave instructions on how to proceed. Instructions on how to give CPR also were given by the device.

The device will not administer an electrical shock if it senses a pulse.

``Anything can happen at any one of our venues,'' said city Emergency Services Coordinator Donna Nuzzi. ``In our city, we just want to lead the way. We think we're the first city our size to be able to offer this.''

The city of Los Angeles was the first in the nation to place the defibrillators in mass scale in public places two years ago. The goal of the program is to offer another link to help save victims of cardiac arrest while awaiting paramedics.

According to County Fire Battalion Chief E. Matt Gil, the department receives an average of three calls a week for service for cardiac arrest.

``I'm really pleased the city is being proactive,'' he said. ``This will provide quick intervention, especially if we're experiencing a mass emergency, such as an earthquake.''

The Valencia Town Center also has installed defibrillators. The city contracted with Phillips Medical Systems to buy the devices, which can range from $1,800 to $2,800. According to the American Heart Association, which supports the use of AEDs in the public sector, about 250,000 people die each year from sudden cardiac arrest. A cardiac arrest patient has a 35 percent to 50 percent chance of survival when an AED is used, compared with a 5 percent chance with CPR.

To date, there have been no lawsuits against lay rescuers providing CPR or AEDs, according to the American Red Cross.

Doug Botton, who oversees all the city's aquatics programs, said that while the defibrillators can be accessed by the public to use, there are several safety precautions installed in the device, including a microchip that records the procedure and is then reviewed by a physician.

``It puts us ahead of the curve,'' Botton said. ``To know we're better prepared makes us all rest easier.''

City staff will be trained next week during two sessions to learn how to use the device properly. Defibrillators will be placed in City Hall, at all city pools, Central Park's recreation office, the Community Center, and the George C. Caravalho Sports Complex gym.

``This will definitely save lives,'' Kellar said. ``We're pleased we are able to receive this equipment.''

Susan Abram, (661) 257-5257

susan.abram(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

3 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Doug Botton demonstrates CPR on a dummy, the first step before defibrillation, at a press conference Thursday.

(2 -- color) A tab from a new defibrillator kit is removed from a dummy during a demonstration at City Hall. Thirteen of the kits will be installed in several locations around Santa Clarita.

(3 -- color) Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Pulskamp, left, and Mayor Bob Kellar learn to use one of the new defibrillators that will be placed around the city for use by the general public.

Charlotte Schmid-Maybach/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 13, 2004
Words:602
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