The Buckhannon HEARTSafe Committee has installed one of three AEDs on Chancery Street between the Upshur County Courthouse and Upshur County Courthouse Annex. Two more will be installed throughout the City of Buckhannon, including one in Jawbone Park and one near the restrooms of the Rivertrail. The boxes holding the AEDs have alarms, and the HEARTSafe Committee plans to offer awareness classes so residents can recognize sudden cardiac arrest and act on it.

BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon HEARTSafe Committee Chairperson Maria Potter said the American Heart Association has released statistics saying for every minute that is delayed in defibrillation in a sudden cardiac arrest, the chances of survival decrease by 10 percent.

“So, if you are not defibrillating in the first 10 minutes, the patient’s chance of survival is basically zero,” Potter said. “Our goal is to receive the designation of a HEARTSafe Community. Then, we can place a sign saying Buckhannon is a HEARTSafe Community – and showing people we are concerned for the health of those around us and are prepared if someone should suffer a sudden cardiac arrest.”

Potter said this past week she installed an AED box and AED – which stands for automated external defibrillator – on Chancery Street between the Upshur County Courthouse and Courthouse Annex.

“The county purchased the box and AED,” she said. “The City of Buckhannon has purchased two more boxes and AEDs, and those will be installed at Jawbone Park and near the restrooms of the Rivertrail. All of the boxes have alarms.”

She said the committee has not purchased the AEDs and boxes but has coordinated the initiative to help Buckhannon and Upshur County become a HEARTSafe Community.

“Currently, we are trying to get agencies and churches that have AEDs to move them to the outside of their buildings. That would ensure there is access to help 24/7,” Potter said.

The HEARTSafe Committee has members from throughout the community, including folks from the hospital, the Buckhannon Fire Department, the E911 Center and community residents.

“We are working to get input from the community,” Potter said. “Our goals include widespread education for CPR, recognition of sudden cardiac arrest and early defibrillation. We are tracking our success through the program and hope to offer an awareness class in the near future so people can recognize sudden cardiac arrest and act.”

Buckhannon Fire Chief J.B. Kimble said the program is an asset to the community.

“It’s essential to our community as an emergency services organization that we provide training and essential equipment to the proper locations in our areas,” Kimble said. “By providing training on how to utilize the equipment in place, we are creating a better, safer community to live in.”

Potter said folks willing to donate to the project should contact the Buckhannon Fire Department at 304-472-2868. Sometimes, nonprofit organizations and churches are eligible for grants for the boxes and AED units, she added.

According to www.citizencpr.org, there are well over 600 local HEARTSafe communities in the U.S. dedicated to improving action and response to cardiac arrest through training, preparation and response protocols.