Breckenridge Grand Vacations CEO asks officials to consider countywide network of automated external defibrillators
Knowing that survival rates fall by the minute when someone suffers a heart attack, the head of one of Summit County’s largest employers is suggesting local leaders create a new network of life-saving devices.
A piecemeal approach won’t work nearly as well as a comprehensive system of automated external defibrillators, said Mike Dudick, CEO of Breckenridge Grand Vacations, as he asked Breckenridge Town Council to consider such a system.
Many consumer AEDs retail online for just over $1,000. They are becoming increasingly cost effective and, when turned on, can accurately diagnose life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias like ventricular fibrillation before delivering an electric shock to help someone’s heart re-establish its regular rhythm.
For town council, Dudick floated the idea of having some kind of public-private partnership that puts AEDs in town buildings, local businesses and other high-traffic areas across Breckenridge, as well as equips all emergency responders with the portable, life-saving devices.
A system of registered AEDs strategically placed across Summit County could give county dispatchers quick access to a database so they can tell callers where to find the closest AED when someone dials 911, Dudick said. A public awareness campaign and signage would be some other considerations.
“It is my hope to be part of a collaborative, countywide solution to have readily available AEDs within easy reach of anyone in immediate need of assistance,” Dudick said.
The effort to promote heart health is big for the company after its founder, Rob Millisor, died of a sudden heart attack in October 2015 during a relief mission in Nepal.
As a tribute, Breckenridge Grand Vacations started the BGV Hearth Health Awareness Fund, which has raised close to $750,000 to promote hearth health, said Deb Edwards, who manages the company’s philanthropic wing, BGV Gives.
Now, BGV’s CEO hopes that some of these “solvable” tragedies caused by heart attacks can be transformed into saved lives, as he looks to work with local leaders across the county on a plan to pay for a network of AEDs, including purchasing the devices, long-term maintenance and replacement costs.
The idea for a countywide system of AEDs is not entirely unlike what Honolulu did when city officials began mandating in January 2018 that AEDs be installed and maintained on every floor of every city building and inside any newly constructed buildings occupied by 50 people or more.
The mandate on the island of Oahu came after the conclusion of a five-year case study more than a half a world away, in Bochum, Germany, where 155 AEDs were installed in large-volume areas across the city’s metropolitan districts and with emergency responders from 2004-09.
The study faced several limitations, and the number of times the AEDs came into use were admittedly small for the population size, researchers noted. Still, they came to the conclusion the devices can effectively be put into action by people with little to no experience, dramatically increase response times and ultimately save some people’s lives.
And one local medical professional seems to agree wholeheartedly with that assessment.
“I think it’s a great idea to place AEDs in high-traffic areas around Breckenridge,” said Dr. Peter Lemis, a board-certified cardiologist at Centura Health’s Summit Cardiology practice on the St. Anthony Summit Medical Center campus in Frisco. “This will very likely save lives.”
Having a countywide system like what Dudick described before Breckenridge Town Council could pay dividends not just in Breckenridge but across the county, Lemis added, as he talked about the prevalence of heart attacks today.
The doctor said that sudden cardiac arrest accounts for up to 15 percent of all deaths, and a specific abnormal heart rhythm — ventricular fibrillation — is responsible for a significant portion of those deaths.
“As many as 50 percent of these patients can have their life saved by early delivery of an external electric shock to restore a normal cardiac rhythm,” Lemis continued. “Each additional minute after the onset of ventricular fibrillation reduces survival by 5 to 10 percent. Compared to emergency services dispatch, an AED applied by local responders almost doubles the victim’s survival (chances).”
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