LONGPORT – Worshipers who attend summer services at the historically rebuilt Church of the Redeemer can rest assured their heart will go on with a recent public safety acquisition.
The church’s Board of Trustees and AtlantiCare’s Heart Heroes have partnered to install a state-of-the-art automatic external defibrillator in the Guild Hall that can restart a heart in someone who has experienced a life-threatening event.
“This is the Lamborghini of AEDs,” said AtlantiCare Heart Institute outreach coordinator RoseMarie McCarthy. “It is self-charging with a four-year battery and will automatically determine if a patient needs a shock.”
It is the 284th AED AtlantiCare has distributed to places where people gather since McCarthy started the program in 2002, she said. The organization distributes about a dozen AEDs a year.
Church of the Redeemer Trustee Renee Bunting, who worked at AtlantiCare, contacted the Heart Institute to get the AED for the historic church, which was rebuilt after a devastating fire during a freak derecho storm in July 2012. The church, which provides a beacon for seafarers and summertime worshipers, is only open during the summer months, starting on Father’s Day.
“The church discussed getting one because we are one of the only gathering places at this end of the island and it could save a life,” newly appointed Chairman of the Board of Trustees Tim Dearnly said. “Renee suggested we reach out to Rose and we agreed to share the cost.”
AtlantiCare provides matching funds for the units to fire departments, churches, community centers, or “anywhere people gather,” by conducting two fundraisers a year. The next fundraiser is the 12th anniversary Red Dress/Red Tie reception being held Wednesday, Feb. 6 at Smithville Inn, McCarthy said.
The cost of the defibrillators has been reduced greatly since the program started, she said. Organizations are now required to provide $700, which will be matched by the Heart Heroes program.
The unit includes everything that’s needed to operate the AED without having to go through an extensive training program.
McCarthy handed Chairman Emeritus Thomas J. Subranni a tutorial CD that comes with the unit that explains how to operate it. The two walked around the community room to determine the best place to install it so it is easily accessible to the public. She also provided window stickers to alert anyone entering the hallowed hall that an AED is onsite.
McCarthy said there are AED wall enclosures that automatically place a 911 call to the police department when the door is opened. The trustees said they would consider getting one.
The self-contained unit includes a CPR breathing apparatus, scissors to cut through clothing and a razor to shave a hairy chest. There are paddles sized for adults and children.
As soon as the unit is opened a male voice explains what to do step-by-step, after first calling 911, including how to do CPR breathing until help arrives.
“You can’t make a mistake. Anyone can use it,” McCarthy said.
The church received the latest model, which automatically detects the victim’s vital signs to determine if the person really needs to be shocked, she said. It won’t work unless someone’s heart is stopped or out of rhythm.
“It’s important to have one of these units here in the church, because by the time an ambulance arrives, it could be too late,” Subranni said.
“We plan to do a follow-up CPR class in summer when the congregation is up and running,” Dearnly said.
The AtlantiCare Heart Institute is the only full-service cardiac program in the southeastern part of the state. The Heart Heroes raise money through the AtlantiCare Foundation to make AEDs available to the community. The requesting agency provides a 50 percent share of the $1,400 cost of purchasing the units.
For more information, contact McCarthy at 609-404-7979 or see atlanticare.org.