Albert B Beardsley, Fire Chief
47 Central Street
Georgetown, MA 01833
For Immediate Release
Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Georgetown Fire Department Presented with HEARTSafe Community Award
GEORGETOWN — At the October 6 Board of Selectmen’s meeting, the Georgetown Fire Department was presented with the HEARTSafe Community Award by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. This award designates the Town of Georgetown as a Heartsafe Community and recognizes the continued efforts of the Georgetown Fire Department to provide awareness, education, and response to cardiac arrest emergencies.
Georgetown joins the approximately 160 HEARTSafe communities in Massachusetts and many more nationwide. The Heartsafe program was started in Massachusetts in 2002. Criteria for the award include:
- Placement of public access Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in schools, public buildings, businesses, etc.
- Community training programs in CPR, First Aid, and Chokesaver response as well as informal training and awareness campaigns at special events throughout the year
- Extensive training for Fire Department EMTs and Paramedics in cardiac arrest response
- Acquisition of new technology to aid in cardiac arrest care
Ever since the Georgetown Fire Department initiated the transporting ambulance program, the department has constantly sought to increase the quality of care that it provides to the residents and visitors of Georgetown.
The HEARTSafe Community program was initiated in Georgetown by Nick Valentini, who saw there was room for growth in how the town approaches sudden cardiac arrest emergencies. These initiatives, detailed below, have significantly strengthened the ability of the Fire Department and the community as a whole to respond to cardiac arrest emergencies.
Automated External Defibrillators
The Town of Georgetown has AEDs located in some municipal buildings, including the public safety building and all 3 public schools. Current science indicates that early CPR and use of an AED within the first few minutes after cardiac arrest provides the best possible chance of survival for the victim. The placement of these AEDs and subsequent use by members of the public is a key step in the American Heart Association’s “chain of survival” for cardiac arrest victims.
In our business community, we have several private companies who have chosen to place AEDs on site. We have begun reaching out to these businesses in conjunction with our annual fire prevention inspections to develop a database of these units. The ultimate goal is to incorporate the database into state and national AED registries and also make the information available to our public safety dispatchers for use in identifying possible AED units near to a cardiac arrest. Additionally, for “high risk” businesses, those that have large numbers of employees, restaurants and food-service establishments, and community gathering sites, we have developed materials to encourage the purchase of a unit and at least minimal training in Hands-Only CPR. Over the next two years, we hope to reach every business in town.
Response Planning and Improvements
All Fire Department and Police Department first response vehicles are equipped with an AED and every member of the Police and Fire Department is trained to the minimum level of first responder. Within the next few months we will be significantly upgrading the training modules to incorporate new equipment and a new approach to CPR aligned with national best practices.
The Fire Department is also in the process of acquiring new equipment to improve our capability to manage cardiac arrest emergencies. We have purchased a LUCAS 2 automated CPR device and expect to place it in service within the next 3 weeks. These devices provide high-quality compressions, the most important part of cardiac arrest care, above and beyond what can be done by manual CPR. Studies have shown the devices improve the outcomes of patients in sudden cardiac arrest. Additionally, this device greatly increases responder safety and reduces responder injury risk.
Community Awareness and Involvement
Lastly, the Georgetown Fire Department has recently revamped our approach to community cardiac arrest awareness. We have begun teaching “sidewalk CPR” demonstrations at our community events to promote a general awareness of CPR, most recently at the Fire and Police Open House on October 5th. Additionally, we have begun promoting community CPR, First Aid, and Chokesaver classes. For more information about our class offerings, please call or e-mail the Fire Department at 978-352-5757 or [email protected]
The Georgetown Fire Department continues to be a progressive and proactive department in our response to both fire and medical emergencies. We hope to continue to expand the services we offer to the residents and visitors of Georgetown over the next few years.