JOHN DAY – When a heart stops beating, seconds count.

That’s a fact that Blue Mountain Hospital paramedic Rebekah Domes and EMT Mary Vargas know well.

The two have teamed up to educate local businesses about a tool they can have on hand to help people who may experience sudden cardiac arrest, an AED, Automated External Defibrillator, which can be a lifesaver.

The computerized devices can identify when someone needs a cardiac defibrillation, or shock, to “reset” a person’s heart rhythm.

Domes said AEDs are designed for the layperson to use in emergencies.

“You press the power button, and it starts talking to you,” she said.

The device gives instructions for using the AED to shock and restart the electrical activity in the heart, as well as how to perform CPR.

While emergency workers try to reach patients as fast as they can, response time can be 7 minutes or more, Domes said, adding that every minute a person in cardiac arrest goes without a cardiac defibrillation shock, their chance of survival decreases by approximately 10 percent.

With an AED, “you increase the chance of survival,” she said.

The compact equipment runs around $1,295 in price, which includes a wall cabinet.

Currently there are a few AEDs located in John Day – at Old West Federal Credit Union, Body Fitness & Dance, Advantage Dental, Grant Union Junior-Senior High School, Strawberry Wilderness Community Clinic, the cafeteria at Blue Mountain Hospital and in some law enforcement vehicles.

While Domes and Vargas are not selling AEDs, they are working with local businesses to find models that meet their needs and situations.

“We are trying to encourage businesses to get together, and share the cost,” Vargas said, adding small business grants may be available.

Domes and Vargas said they are willing to help businesses and others explore AED options and information regarding funding available and general information and maintenance.

For more information, call 541-575-1311, ext. 2378, or drop by the ambulance office at BMH Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

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