El Dorado News Times Logo
Today's Paper Coronavirus Weather Obits Community Calendar Readers' Choice: Best of the Best Public Notices Newsletters National App FAQ Archives Puzzles Circulars

Local officials learn of public-access defibrillator benefits

by Caitlan Butler | March 12, 2023 at 12:00 a.m.
From left, paramedic instructor Mike Laws, El Dorado Police Officer Scotty Young, Grayson's Army Foundation founder Michelle Temple, Justice of the Peace Greg Harrison and Union County Emergency Management Coordinator Bruce Goff stand alongside a Zoll AED Plus device, a CPR dummy and a photo of Grayson Temple, Michelle's son who passed away at 16 as a result of sudden cardiac arrest. All five were in attendance at a meeting at the Union County Courthouse on Wednesday, March 8, where information about AEDs and public-accessibility to defibrillators was discussed. (Caitlan Butler/News-Times)

Local officials and others in the community had the opportunity Wednesday to learn about a potentially life-saving program other cities around the country have initiated.

AED PAD program initiatives, where automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) are made accessible to the general public (PAD – publicly accessible defibrillation), have successfully raised the survival rate for those who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest, said Roger Mattai, a sales manager for Zoll Medical, a manufacturer of AEDs.

Michelle Temple, formerly of El Dorado, organized the meeting with her husband, Dale, with whom she founded the Grayson's Army Foundation in 2022 following the death of her 16-year-old-son, Grayson, who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.

"I had four children. We lost our son Grayson in December of '21," she said. "As a nurse, this is very important for me, not only – I am on a committee in Baton Rouge to do this same thing – but in my hometown, it means just as much, because who knows? Someday I may come back. I grew up here playing sports, and you never heard of it then, but you hear of it now, especially since COVID."

Sudden cardiac arrest

Mattai on Wednesday discussed the grave threat sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) poses. He said SCA is the leading cause of death in the United States, with a smaller than 7% survival rate among those who suffer an SCA outside of a hospital setting.

"We all saw this occur on Monday Night Football about a month and a half ago. Damar Hamlin was saved with a Zoll AED," he said, referring to the Buffalo Bills' safety who collapsed on the field during a game following a tackle.

"More people die of cardiac arrest than any other disease, injury, trauma... We lose over 400,000 people per year to cardiac arrest. That's over 1,000 a day. I use this analogy to really draw attention to this: If 1,000 people a day were dying in airplanes, due to airplane crashes, would you buy your mother or loved one a ticket to go fly to California? Probably not. You'd probably tell her to take the car," he continued.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease was behind a quarter of all deaths in the State of Arkansas in 2017. It was the number one killer in the state.

But having an AED on hand, accessible to anyone who sees someone suffer an SCA, can be a huge difference-maker, he said.

"CPR is an important step in this resuscitation process, but it will not restart the heart; you need this defibrillation shock therapy from a device to reset the heart," Mattai said. "If that AED is used on that patient within 3-4 minutes, we raise survival from that less than 7% to 60-70%."

On average, it takes emergency medical service 7-14 minutes to respond to a call. Mattai said the chances of surviving an SCA drop by 10% for every minute that passes without defibrillation.

"Cities that have initiated AED Pad programs are currently enjoying a 30-45% survival rate," he said.

AED PAD program initiatives

Local leaders including Mayor Paul Choate, Medical Center of South Arkansas CEO David Fox, Chamber of Commerce Project Manager Kaitlyn Rigdon, Justice of the Peace Greg Harrison and Union County Emergency Management Coordinator Bruce Goff were in attendance at Wednesday's meeting.

Mattai said cities including Lafayette, Louisiana; San Diego, California; St. Louis, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; and Miami, Florida, among others, have all adopted AED PAD programs.

"These things are started in various different ways. Some are funded by hospital foundations, or jumpstarted by hospital foundations. They'll get a bunch of devices out there," he said. "It's our objective, then, to reach out to the faith-based organizations, to reach out to the major businesses... Some of these are county-driven, some are hospital-driven. We're out here trying to find who can help us drive to get these programs up and running."

He also offered a list of suggested placements for AEDs, including: law enforcement officers' vehicles, fire department stations, school campuses, local government buildings, civic centers, athletic complexes, gyms, churches, playgrounds, museums, libraries and recreation hubs like movie theaters and retail stores.

Temple, who met with the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex Board last week, expressed interest in getting a few AEDs placed at the Complex, noting that she'd attended several games there over the weekend and scoped out possible locations that would make the devices easy to use in the event of an emergency.

"The Complex is one of the first places we're looking at, because they have noting. We have athletes, parents, grandparents, siblings coming from all over to play sports here," she said.

The pitch

Mattai showed those gathered Wednesday two different AED models manufactured by Zoll. The two produces – a Zoll AED 3 and a Zoll AED Plus – were similar, except the No. 3 model has a larger screen, with more detailed graphics guiding users through the defibrillation and CPR process.

"I don't know what the rate is here in Union County, but in Baton Rouge, in an out-of-hospital event, CPR has not been started because they're reliant on EMS," said Temple. "So we've got to do better as a community teaching, making people feel comfortable using CPR and having these devices available."

The No. 3 model costs $1,995, and the Plus model costs $1,799, with additional batteries and pads costing about $200 each, according to information provided at the meeting.

Both have batteries and pads with a five-year lifetime, he said. Temple also noticed that other manufacturers to offer more budget-friendly models, all of which provide audio guidance to those using the device.

"All AEDs have pads and batteries, and the pads and batteries on the Zoll products are the longest life in the industry," Mattai said.

Harrison, who also chairs the Rec Complex Board, said a fundraiser has been scheduled for April 1 at the Rec Complex, where the Union County Girls Softball Association will host a "Jamboree," each team playing two games.

"We're going to have families coming from Junction City, Strong, Smackover, Norphlet, Parkets Chapel, El Dorado," he said. "It's going to be a great opportunity to have everybody from the county that has young ladies that play softball, all the ages of 6 all the way up to 14 years."

MCSA's Fox said he could commit to the hospital purchasing several AED devices.

"We're committed to purchasing a couple, or three, or five or whatever we need to do to, you know, create a grassroots effort and I think if we can set the example that we can contribute two, three, five of these throughout the community, then others can do the same," Fox said.

Choate said he could ask the El Dorado City Council, and potentially the El Dorado Works Board, about funding for AEDs purchased by the city.

"I have no problem at all endorsing the concept, at all. Funding? You know, I've got eight Council members that I'll have to get on board with it, and we probably can look at funding through our Works tax if no other source is available," he said. "Our guys in blue need access to these. They're all trained with some very basic medical knowledge... It's going to be a sales process."

Temple said she is willing to help in any way she can to make AEDs easily accessible throughout El Dorado and Union County.

"It was our son that we lost... That's why it's really important to us to raise awareness," she said. "God has continued to open a lot of doors for us and He's blessed us in more ways than probably what we deserve sometimes. We all have a heart. Anyone of us could suffer from cardiac arrest."

To learn more about Grayson's Army Foundation, contact Michelle Temple at 225-788-0021 or send an email to [email protected].

photo A Zoll AED Plus is pictured. The device offers audio and visual guidance to walk users through the steps of resuscitating someone with defibrillation followed by CPR. Step one is to call 911. (Caitlan Butler/News-Times)

Print Headline: Local officials learn of public-access defibrillator benefits


Sponsor Content