June 30, 2011

Downing Fire Department Receives AED From Blessing Health System



People served by the Downing Fire Department have a little more protection thanks to the donation of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) arranged by the Schuyler County Medical Reserve Corp (MRC)/Schuyler County Health Department, Blessing Physician Services and the Blessing Heart & Vascular Center. Blessing Physician Services has a partnership with Scotland County Hospital to provide a weekly cardiology clinic in Memphis, which serves the residents of Schuyler, Scotland, Clark & Knox counties.

During the May meeting of the Schuyler County MRC, the need for the Downing Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue First Responders to procure a new AED was announced. Schuyler County Health Department RN/Administrator, Brenda Wilson, contacted Dr. John Hammock's office at Blessing to make the request.

An AED is a portable, accurate and easy-to-use computerized medical device used when a person appears to be suffering a heart attack. The AED checks a person's heart rhythm and through voice prompts, lights and text messages, tells those assisting the victim the steps to take until an ambulance arrives, including delivering an electrical shock to the patient with the AED.

John Hammock, MD, cardiologist, Blessing Physician Services, arranged for the donation after hearing the Downing Fire Department's previous AED malfunctioned and could not be repaired. Dr. Hammock is one of several Blessing Physician Services cardiologists who conduct weekly cardiology clinics at Scotland County Memorial Hospital.

"This was a dangerous situation because it limited those first responders to only chest compressions and basic CPR in cases of cardiac arrest," said Dr. Hammock. "The AED gives them the ability to administer a shock on scene in cases of potentially terminal heart rhythm."

Dr. Hammock took his concern to Blessing Heart & Vascular Center administration, who agreed the situation needed immediate attention. The Center is a department of Blessing Hospital and purchased the AED with funds donated by residents for improvement of heart care in the region.

"We're really glad to have a functioning AED in our department," said Fire Chief Derek Bradley. "Our members deserve the assurance that when we arrive to help them, we have the tools to keep them safe and save lives."

The value of the AED donation is $1,500-$2,000. Helping provide the ability to save a life is priceless.

"Heart attacks claim too many people before they even get to the hospital. Well-equipped first responders play a key role in the delivery of quality medical care in the region," Dr. Hammock stated. "AEDs can mean the difference between life and death for patients in cardiac arrest. Each minute of delay in electrically stimulating the heart dramatically reduces the patient's chances for a favorable outcome and even their survival."

Dr. Hammock added a heart attack patient's best chance for a favorable outcome and survival begins by calling 9-1-1 when heart attack symptoms strike. As many as 70 percent of area heart patients arrive at the hospital by private vehicle, when they could have been receiving treatment on the way to the hospital in an ambulance. Calling 9-1-1 puts the region's heart care system in motion sooner, saving as much as 30 minutes after arriving at a hospital.

"We feel so fortunate that Blessing Physician Services provides a steady and consistent cardiology clinic each week," said Marcia Dial, chief executive officer, Scotland County Hospital. "We are thrilled with the cardiology services provided by Doctors Hammock, Heng and Krause at Scotland County Hospital. We are so pleased that Blessing made this donation to the Downing firefighters."

Blessing Physician Services and Blessing Hospital are part of the Blessing Health System. Other members of the System include The Blessing Foundation, Illini Community Hospital-Pittsfield, IL, Blessing Affiliates and Denman Services, Inc.

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