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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

BEMCo teaches campus AED use

Published: November 12, 2010
Section: News

Six automated external defibrillators (AED) were installed around campus this week, and the Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCo) is offering a two-and-a-half hour class for students, faculty and staff on AED and CPR training.

An AED unit is a life-saving device designed to be used with minimal training, Daniel Saxe ’12, BEMCo’s director of operations, said. An AED is roughly the size of a laptop, and weighs three pounds. It analyzes the patient’s heart rhythm and, if necessary, guides the user through delivering a shock, and continues to guide the user through rescue breathing and chest compressions. The goal of the AED is to provide the highest quality CPR possible.

There are 65 students trained as BEMCo emergency responders at Brandeis that are all certified by the state of Massachusetts as EMTs. And while BEMCo has a response time of one minute and 41 seconds and is equipped with two emergency response vehicles, their goal is to prepare the entire Brandeis community in case of a cardiac arrest emergency.

“It is the standard for every mall and public school to have an AED, and now Brandeis is one of the first universities in the area to have publically accessible AEDs,” Saxe said.

The CPR and AED training class taught by BEMCo offers a two-year certification, is free of charge, counts as one Physical Education credit and has received an enormous response so far.

One of the most important aspects of the six public AEDs is their locations.

“From anywhere on main campus, you can get to an AED by foot in as little as two to three minutes,” said Saxe. The AEDs are located in the Shapiro Campus Center Atrium, Hassenfeld Conference Center, Usdan near the Department of Community Living, Mandel Center for the Humanities, Heller and Lemberg Academic Center (IBS).

“The finances were not a question; the money was earmarked for this community project,” Director of Public Saftety Ed Callahan said. “As a private institution, it is encouraged to have AEDs available, and it is equally essential that they are accessible. We are also getting an AED for 60 Turner Street, the Brandeis Adult Learning Center,” Callahan said.

According to Saxe, BEMCo’s goal is for Brandeis to become a “heart-safe campus.” A heart-safe campus is one in which students and staff have been trained in CPR and AED usage, and defibrillators have been made accessible and available to the community. While the CPR and AED training course is available to students, “in all reality,” Saxe said, “students are gone in four years. It’s the faculty and staff who really need to be trained.”

The idea to make Brandeis a “heart-safe campus,” was proposed by Saxe and Kassandra Gibbs ’12, administrator on BEMCo’s executive board. The decision to fund the six new defibrillators was made in July by Callahan and by Senior Vice President for Administration Mark Collins. “We want to instill an interest in the Brandeis community to be proactive for things that might happen, like cardiac arrest emergencies,” Saxe said. With the addition of these defibrillators, “we are getting the community prepared.”

According to Saxe, an AED will only administer a shock if absolutely necessary, after doing an analysis of the patient’s heart rhythms. “We have six defibrillators for good building coverage, and it was a good place to start in terms of funding. This is a step in the right direction for the university and for the community at large. It will save lives, and we will see that the effects of this will work only to enhance Brandeis.”