Excellus donates six defibrillators to county

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield has donated six automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office. The donation is part of an initiative launched several years ago to get the units in widespread use throughout the insurer’s 11-county service area.

"In rural parts of our service area, the first responder to a sudden cardiac arrest is likely to be a sheriff’s deputy, which is why we approached Sheriff Middaugh with our offer of AED units," said Eve Van de Wal, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield regional president. Excellus has 1.7 million members across upstate New York.

Sheriff Daniel G. Middaugh’s department had a number of AED units in place, but not enough to completely equip its headquarters, field offices, car stations and fleet of patrol cars, he said.

"With the addition of these six AEDs, our department now has 11 units deployed to help protect the people of Oneida County. These units will save lives."

Cardiac arrest can strike without warning and requires immediate treatment to increase the victim’s chance of survival. It is a leading cause of death in the U.S., striking more than 325,000 people a year.

The most effective treatment for sudden cardiac arrest is an electric shock to the heart, called defibrillation. This "shock" is administered by an AED.

"The likelihood of successful resuscitation decreases by about 10 percent with every minute that passes, which is why it is so important that we have these devices with us out in the community," said Middaugh.

The American Heart Association estimates that with increased access to AEDs, up to 40,000 lives could be saved each year.

The AED units Excellus donated are state-of-the-art Philips HeartStart Defibrillators that retail for about $2,500. The unit is the size of a child’s lunch box and is fully automated.

The unit issues voice commands to coach the user in its operation, including coaching the proper administration of CPR and providing a metronome beat to count and time chest compressions. If the unit’s chest pads sense a pulse, it will not allow an electrical charge to be administered.

"These are amazing devices and Excellus BCBS is pleased to be able to get them in use in our community," said Van de Wal.

For more information on AEDs, visit the American Heart Association’s website at www.americanheart.org.