Plan will equip businesses to treat heart emergencies

The American Heart Association wants to make automated external defibrillators as accessible as fire extinguishers, says Fergus Laughridge, program manager for Emergency Medical Services at the Nevada State Health Division.

Big distribution centers such as those that dominate the industrial landscape of northern Nevada are a primary target for the campaign.

The State Emergency Medical Services convention in Elko kicked off a campaign to make the devices widely available at public business locales casinos, health clubs, airports and shopping malls.

J.W. Hodge, public education manager at Reno-based Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA), says large warehouses with lots of space should also install defibrillators because their spacious layouts and often-remote locations translate to a long lag time to get a heart problem to help.

REMSA has taken the lead in making the program available in Washoe County, he says. Meanwhile, Pat Songer will serve the rural counties from Winnemucca.

To alert business owners, the Nevada Heart Project will mail a brochure to an initial target list of 2,500 in May. Respondees can request an on-site demonstration.

Each machine normally costs about $2,000, says Hodge, but the project negotiated a price of $1,500, which includes accessories and warranties.

Unlike fire extinguishers, the law does not require that defibrillators be present.

But Hodge notes, "A couple of fitness centers on the East Coast were sued for not having them installed."

Nevada Project Heartbeat is sponsored by a partnership, including REMSA, the Nevada State Health Division, Emergency Medical Services, the University of Nevada School of Medicine, Center for Education and Health Services Outreach and Office of Rural Health, and Humboldt County General Hospital

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