Cardiac machines to be installed at senior center |

Cardiac machines to be installed at senior center

FRISCO – Silverthorne Police Chief John Patterson is a huge supporter of Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) since paramedics using the device saved his life 15 years ago.

So he’s very excited that one of the machines will be installed next week in the Summit County Community and Senior Center in Frisco.

An AED monitors the rhythm of a patient’s heart. If a heartbeat is irregular or nonexistent, the medical provider can use the machine to jolt the patient and restore a viable cardiac rhythm.

“I’m convinced electricity saves lives – it’s much more effective than CPR,” Patterson said. “Hopefully, they’ll never have to use it, but if they do, there’ll be one there.”

AEDs debuted about 15 years ago, said Ed Parry, assistant director for the Summit County Ambulance Service. As technology improved, the machines got lighter and easier to use. Now, municipalities are installing them in numerous public areas, including golf courses, recreation centers and airplanes.

Patterson installed one at the Silverthorne Recreation Center, one at the water authority office, has a third AED in the sergeant’s car and plans to install two more in town.

These days, it’s virtually impossible to use an AED incorrectly. A diagram shows the provider how and where to install sticky pads to the patient’s chest, and the simple press of a button evaluates the heart and walks the provider through the process. If the machine detects a viable heartbeat, it won’t allow the provider to deliver a shock to the patient.

An AED kept Patterson alive for 12 days after he suffered a massive heart attack that killed all the muscle in the left side of his heart. Surgeons replaced his damaged heart with one from a 32-year-old man.

Parry said he doesn’t think the fear of modern technology will deter Summit County’s techno-savvy seniors from using the AED if the need arises.

“I go in the senior center about three times a week, and they’re always lined up to use the Internet,” he said. People who spend a lot of time at the center, including office administrators, have been trained to use the machine.

More importantly to Parry, however, is that he has developed a template other organizations or municipalities can use to establish AED stations and protocols of their own.

Western Emergency Physicians, a Denver-based consortium, has agreed to put any new AEDs that are to be used by the public under their insurance policy. And new state laws have made it more difficult for someone to sue another for using the machine in an attempt to save a life.

Even five years ago, medical providers were required to take an AED class and then get recertified every 90 days. Now, it’s taught as part of CPR classes, Parry said.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or

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