S.P. Declared 'HeartSafe'
Southern Pines now has the distinction of being one of the few towns -- if not the only one -- in North Carolina to be designated as a "HeartSafe Community" by the American Red Cross.
That means an automatic external defibrillator (AED) is two or three minutes from any location in the downtown where a person might suffer sudden cardiac arrest, according to Buddy Spong, executive director of the Moore County Chapter of the American Red Cross and vice chairman of a group called HeartSafe Moore County.
"We now have the downtown area covered," Spong said. "We wanted to make sure there was at least one in every quadrant of the core downtown. Now we need to get the word out so people will know where they are. These will save lives."
Spong said it is critical to start shocking the heart within four to five minutes after the onset of sudden cardiac arrest.
He said the survival rate is about 75 percent to 80 percent but starts to drop dramatically beyond five minutes.
Many of the AEDs have been placed outside businesses and other public buildings, so they can be accessed 24 hours a day, Spong said. Some of the more recent installations are outside The Ice Cream Parlor and That's A Deli -- the scene of a tragic death of a shopper last Christmas -- in the downtown. On Tuesday, an AED was installed at Sandhills Cinema.
Others are located at the American Red Cross office on Pennsylvania Avenue, First Bank on Broad Street near the park, the Southern Pines Library on Connecticut Avenue, the town planning and finance office on Broad Street next to the post office, The Pilot office on Pennsylvania Avenue, Train House, Reservoir Park, Memorial Park Recreation Center, the Pool Park, the Memorial Park field house, fire station and the Douglass Community Center.
Spong credited the Southern Pines Business Association, the town, the Red Cross and local businesses for achieving the HeartSafe designation.
"They have really come through big-time," he said. "This is something we can all be very proud of."
Aberdeen and Whispering Pines are also working to provide AED coverage in public areas. Spong said efforts are also under way to develop the same type of AED network in the village of Pinehurst. He said that at least six AEDs are needed in the village core area, particularly at the restaurant locations, as well as the Theatre building, Given Memorial Library and one near the Magnolia Inn.
The Carolina Hotel, the Holly Inn, Manor Inn and Pine Crest Inn, and The Village Chapel and its new Care Cottage on Community Road, all have AEDs.
"We need to get these devices in as many places as we can," Spong said.
Covering the Schools
Receiving the HeartSafe designation for Southern Pines is the latest success story for the nonprofit organization founded in the fall of 2007.
On Thursday, the Moore County Community Foundation awarded a $12,000 grant to HeartSafe to purchase additional AEDs for the county's 22 public school campuses. The group's goal is to have 52 AEDs in the schools. With this grant, 49 AEDs will be on school campuses, according to Dr. Robin Cummings, a retired cardiac surgeon and chairman of the nonprofit organization.
"It really shows their commitment to this project, to the schools in the county and to this community," Cummings said. "Hopefully, others will be inspired to donate these machines so we can reach our goal."
The foundation awarded a $21,000 grant last year that allowed the group to purchase AEDs for the schools.
"It is a great program," said Hugh Bingham, of First Bank, who is chairman of the Moore County Community Foundation. "So many public activities take place at schools. We think this is a great way to support the community. It is going to help a lot."
HeartSafe Moore needs at least 12 more AEDs immediately -- three more for the public schools, while the others will be placed in other high-traffic areas such as shopping centers, as well as some private schools, according to board member Claudia Watson. The O'Neal School bought four AEDs several years ago, Cummings added.
HeartSafe hopes businesses and other organizations will consider sharing the cost of an AED and cabinet, which costs $1,820, and mount the unit on the outside so it would be easily accessible.
Cummings said Sandhills Cinema is an ideal location for an AED because of the large number of patrons who come there every day. He said at least two people suffered heart attacks there and had to be transported by ambulance to the hospital in the past year. Pinewild resident Jim Connell donated the device for the theater.
Pinehurst Resort has placed AEDs throughout its eight golf courses and has one roaming AED for each course. Cummings said he hopes other golf clubs in the area will follow suit. There have been several instances in which the AEDs have been used, he said.
Developing a Registry
HeartSafe has a registry of 214 AEDs, which are shown on a map on its Web site. They are located all around the county -- in schools, churches, businesses and even golf courses.
But Cummings said there are others out there that the group does not know about. He said the organization wants to know where every AED is located in the county. Businesses, churches and other organizations can register their AEDs on the HeartSafe Moore County Web site at www.heartsafemoore.org.
HeartSafe has provided locations of the AEDs to Moore County Public Safety, which will be maintaining a database of all registered sites in the county. If someone in Southern Pines, for example, suffers a heart attack in a public area, 911 dispatchers can tell a caller where the closest AED is located.
"That is why it is so important that we know where all of the AEDs are located in the county, not just the ones we have installed," Cummings said.
As a community service, county Public Safety will be able to remind program members when their AED pads and battery expirations are near, according to Scot Brooks, the county's emergency manager. He said the county can send out an e-mail once or twice a year as a reminder to check the units and seek any training necessary. Once every two or three years, the county Public Safety will perform a site visit to replace pads and/or batteries if needed.
Brooks said one of his part-time employees has been out looking for AEDs that are currently not listed on the registry to check the pads and batteries.
He said they hope to obtain good contact information on all the devices to avoid having to send someone out to check them periodically.
He also echoed the need for every AED in the county to be registered.
"If they aren't on the list, our telecommunicators don't know they exist," he said. "That is the only way we will know about them."
One of the keys for the group is to educate local residents about the location of the AEDs and the fact that they are simple to use, Cumming said. The devices are fully automated and easy to use. It speaks instructions and can also print them out on an LCD screen.
"These will save lives," he said.
Spong said that once the schools and the larger population centers have coverage, the group would like to see AEDs placed in law-enforcement patrol cars to reach more remote areas of the county.
"We are going to keep working at it until we make all of Moore County HeartSafe," he said. "We almost have all of the schools covered. We have made a lot of progress. We are a lot closer than I thought we would have been if you had asked me two years ago."
Anyone needing more information about HeartSafe Moore County can contact Moore County Public Safety at 947-6500 or the Moore County Chapter of the American Red Cross at 692-8571, or visit www.heartsafemoore.org.
Contact David Sinclair at 693-2462 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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