Local business donates AED to city pool


December 23, 2021

When you spend years saving lives, your eyes learn to spot opportunities for saving even more. That’s why Jay Kenealy has chosen to donate an automated external defibrillator (AED) to the City of Sundance from his company, J.T. Builders.

“I’ve gotten a lot of work from a lot of people in this community and I figured I wanted to donate something back from my business,” he says.

During the winter, the machine will be housed at City Hall, but “The main reason I donated it was that there’s not one at the pool,” Kenealy says.

A paramedic by training (a service he previously provided for the community of Sundance as EMS Division Chief for Crook County Medical Services District), Kenealy knows the importance of having the right equipment on hand in an emergency.

“I’m a paramedic, these are the things you think about,” he says.

He also knows that AEDs have saved countless lives.

“When someone drowns and they go into cardiac arrest, it’s been witnessed that, within the first few minutes, there is usually a viable either v-tach or v-fib,” he says, referring to ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation, both types of irregular heart rhythm, both of which can be treated with a shock from a defibrillator.

A defibrillator will automatically detect a cardiac arrhythmia and treat it with a shock of electricity. This stops the arrhythmia and allows the heart to re-establish its regular, effective rhythm.

Lifeguards at the pool, who are already trained in first aid, will be provided with further training on the use of the machines if needed. But it doesn’t take an expert, Kenealy says, encouraging any member of the community to consider making use of it in an emergency.

Utilizing the AED is simply a case of switching it on and waiting around one minute for it to be ready. At the pool, Kenealy says, that time can be used to dry the chest of the patient, because “electricity and water doesn’t work”.

Once ready, simply put the pads on the patient’s chest, allow the AED to analyze the patient and the machine will then guide you through a step-by-step process dictated by an electronic voice.

Despite what television shows would have you believe, the AED will not work if there is no heart rhythm present, also known as a “flatline”. The machine will, in fact, refuse to apply a shock. In that situation, he says, performing chest compressions until the ambulance arrives is the best option.

However, says Kenealy, a flatline right after a person goes into cardiac arrest is not usually the case.

“Generally, in a new [cardiac] arrest, usually their heart is still fibrillating, it’s just not adequately pumping blood to your organs and your brain,” he says.

“That’s when electricity is essential: when they first go into arrest. As a paramedic, I’ve shocked patients before that went into arrest in front of me and…they went right back into a normal sinus rhythm and woke right back up – so they work.”

The ambulances serving Sundance contain advanced defibrillators, of course, but Kenealy points out that they’re going to take a few minutes to arrive.

“Seconds count in that situation,” he says.

During the winter months, the defibrillator will be available at City Hall. It’s common to install them in public buildings, for example schools or large businesses, Kenealy says, and he would like to make sure the community is aware this one is available.

“If I was having lunch [in town] and someone went into cardiac arrest, I’d just run across the street and grab it because I know it’s there,” he says. “If people know where it is, [it’s there for] whoever might be trained to use it or who might think about it.”


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