Heart Health: Automated External Defibrillators on Campus

Heart Health: Automated External Defibrillators on Campus

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

 February is American Heart Month, making this an apt time to remind people about automated external defibrillators (AEDs), how to use them, and where they are located on campus. During a recent incident at the Hamel Rec Center, staff members used an AED and CPR to revive a student who collapsed while running on the treadmill.

An automated external defibrillator is a portable electronic device that automatically detects an irregular cardiac arrhythmia, a condition that can lead to cardiac arrest. Shocking the heart with an AED can help reset the heart’s regular rhythm.

Through simple audio and visual commands, the AED lets a rescuer know if the person in distress needs to be shocked, and, if so, issues step-by-step instructions on how to do so. If there is a detectable pulse, the defibrillator won’t transmit.

“The machine won’t administer a shock unless it detects that the person needs it. The AEDs are foolproof,” says Jim Lapolla, Homeland Security specialist/paramedic with the UNH Police Department Office of Emergency Management.

Unlike a regular defibrillator, an AED requires minimal training, and will administer the shock without the user's command. Still, despite the machine’s simplicity, training is suggested to familiarize people with the device outside of an emergency situation.

UNH has approximately 50 AEDs on campus. A list of locations is available here. There are also devices at UNH Manchester and on the UNH M/V Gulf Challenger. If you don’t see your building on the list, or you have questions, call Lapolla at 2-1427.

In 2012, the UNH Parents Association gave the UNH men’s and women’s rowing teams a grant for two AEDs “to enhance the safety of practices for the teams.” Offseason, the defibrillators will be available to Campus Recreation for use with the Campus Rec sport clubs.

According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year from sudden cardiac death. About 10 percent of those are among people under the age of 40.  

Heart map by Bridget Finnegan.