November 14, 2001

Contact: Sarah Ray
Posted: November 14, 2001

MIDDLEBURY, VT - In an effort to improve the likelihood of survival for an on-campus victim of sudden cardiac arrest, Middlebury College has purchased two automatic external defibrillators (AEDs). The AEDs will be used by trained members of the College's department of public safety to resuscitate a victim prior to the arrival of the town of Middlebury's volunteer ambulance squad.

Following American Heart Association guidelines, Middlebury College established a Public Access Defibrillation Program. The program includes physician oversight, regular training of lay rescuers, and maintenance of the AEDs. It was designed to encourage collaboration between the College and local emergency medical services in response to a cardiac arrest. Peter Newton, operations manager of the Middlebury Volunteer Ambulance Association said, "The College's program is a great addition that could increase survival by decreasing response time for defibrillation." He noted that similar programs are now being established across the country as technology improves and is now available to trained lay responders.

According to Dr. Mark Peluso, Middlebury College physician, sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death among adults in North America. Each year, it claims the lives of an estimated 225,000 in the United States alone which means that once every one or two minutes, another American succumbs suddenly and without warning.

Peluso pointed out that, though the average victim is about 65 years old, some victims are in their 30s or 40s. For many, there is no previous history of heart problems. Sudden cardiac arrest is often the first symptom.

When sudden cardiac arrest occurs, most victims have an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation that results in a lack of circulation to the heart and the brain. If the heart is shocked quickly with a defibrillator, a normal heart rhythm may be restored in a process called

defibrillation. "The shorter the time between a person's collapse and the time that defibrillation takes place, the better the chances of that victim's survival," said Peluso.

Lisa Boudah, director of Middlebury College public safety, emphasized, "The new defibrillators are just one link in the chain of survival. Since time is critical, the key step is early notification. We urge our community to call 911 immediately in an emergency."