Rotary clubs help put AEDs in Georgetown County facilities

GEORGETOWN, SC (WBTW)— An effort to install life saving equipment in public facilities throughout Georgetown County took a big leap forward this year. For the second year in a row, the Andrews Rotary Club installed AEDs in four public facilities in Georgetown, Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet.

AEDs , also known as automated external defibrillators, are portable devices that check the heart’s rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm in cases of sudden cardiac arrest. Having one nearby if a person’s heart stops can dramatically improve the chances of survival, and with the device’s ability to offer voice instructions and determine on its own whether a shock needs to be administered, any bystander can use an AED with no previous training.

The Andrews Rotary Club introduced an initiative two years ago to work toward not only getting an AED in every public space, but mapping them, so residents can easily locate one close to them in an emergency using an app on their phone.

“You open up this AED Registry app and you can see little red dots all over the place where AEDs are available. A year ago, before we started this, there was pretty much nothing on the map here in our area, so we’re already seeing great progress,” said Georgetown County Administrator Sel Hemingway, who is also a member of the  Andrews Rotary Club. “We were very lucky to have other Rotary Clubs jump on board with this project, and I think we’ll see it continue to grow moving forward.”

This year the Andrews club installed AEDs at Andrews Town Hall, the concession building at Georgetown County’s Catclaw Park, and on two Town of Andrews fire trucks. They had already added AEDs at Olive Park, the Andrews Library, Andrews Regional Recreation Center and the Andrews Senior Citizens Center in 2016.

The Georgetown Lunch Rotary Club installed four AEDs around the Georgetown Area on Jan. 31. The devices are now at Beck Recreation Center, Howard Recreation Center, the Georgetown Senior Citizens Center and Eight Oaks Park.

The Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet Clubs have also said they plan to install AEDs in the communities they serve, including along the MarshWalk and at the Waccamaw Regional Recreation Center.

The project “has the potential to not only affect our county, but could be replicated throughout Rotary International to save thousands of lives,” said Pete Little, president-elect of the Georgetown Lunch Rotary Club.

He, along with club president Bill Crowther said they hope to eventually get every club in Georgetown and Horry counties to participate, as well as expand the program outside the club to corporate and community partners.

“With enough people participating, we could have the entire Grand Strand area covered in a matter of years,” Crowther said.

At about $1,300 per unit, the devices aren’t cheap, but having one nearby can be the difference between life and death in a cardiac emergency.

“Our emergency responders can tell you, when a person’s heart stops suddenly, every second counts and even a very small delay in efforts to get the heart beating again can be detrimental,” Hemingway said.

According to the American Heart Association, a victim’s chances of survival drop by 7 to 10 percent for every minute that passes without the restoration of a normal heartbeat. Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death among adults over the age of 40, affecting 424,000 people of all ages annually in the U.S. Nine out of 10 victims die. In 2013, there were 9,500 cases of sudden cardiac arrest in children and teens, according to the American Heart Association.

“Even without a heart condition, a child’s heart can stop during a sporting event,” said Midway Fire Rescue Chief Doug Eggiman. “They could take some type of hit to the chest and that could throw anyone into a lethal arrhythmia.”

Midway advised Rotary in what kind of AEDs it should install.

Info above is from a submitted press release.