On July 26, Registered Nurse Lynn Miller and Health Department Director Connie Boreson with the Valley County Health Department were in the driveway of the Glasgow Fire Hall, ready to spread awareness about automated external defibrillators (AEDs), explain hands-only CPR, and provide advice about appropriate emergency action. Jenny Fuller, representing the Glasgow Police Station, was also on site, ready to provide information regarding heatstroke and all the situations in which it can take place.
The event was the next step in the Health Department's journey toward making Valley County a Cardiac Ready Community on which they embarked on in January of 2016. Becoming a CRC involves having up-to-code AEDs in the community and educating citizens about how to use them and respond appropriately in emergencies. After acquiring 10 new AEDs for Valley County, through grants and generous donations this spring, and bringing four existing ones up to code with new batteries and pads, it was time to start spreading awareness about them and appropriate emergency conduct.
Available at the firehouse was a comprehensive list of each AED in Valley County and where it is located. According to Miller, head of the CRC program, each AED is now listed on a registry and has a specific caretaker affiliated with the organization of the building in which it is housed. This new level of organization will hopefully be more efficient at keeping them up to code, and consequently, available to the public. An additional benefit of having the AEDs on a registry, Miller explained, was that with such a list, 911 dispatchers would be able to direct callers to the nearest AED during an emergency. Of the new AEDs and registry system, Miller remarks, "For all the effort and expense, we don't ever want to have to use them."
Miller was also instructing basic CPR, also called bystander CPR. "It's very non-medical, "she said, "It's all about just empowering people to take action in an emergency." Both Miller and Boreson stressed the importance of spreading awareness about how vital it is to take at least some sort of action in an emergency, even if it is as simple as calling 911 promptly. Working toward this level of comfort, where people could feel confident enough to take action in an emergency, was a huge goal for Wednesday's event. Miller, Boreson, and Fuller had plenty of emergency response information available and were ready to share their advice stemming from applicable personal and professional experience.
The Health Department will have a booth at the Northeast Montana Fair where they will once again be available to spread awareness and answer questions about Valley County's 14 working AEDs and bystander response in an emergency. "Doing this is just a cool way to reach out and touch the community," remarked Boreson. Also in the future is a class they will be hosting regarding spontaneous volunteering in an emergency.