Laurel city is set to receive approximately 100 automatic external defibrillators, or AEDs, from a Gaithersburg health company in what local leaders are saying is an unprecedented donation.
"To our knowledge and research, it's one of the biggest donations to a local government or organization anywhere," said Mayor Craig Moe.
The donation of the AEDs, which is scheduled to be formally announced an event scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19 at the Laurel Municipal Center, is coming from Rescue One Training for Life Inc. The private business provides safety training and products to various groups such as schools, businesses and governments. Moe said the city wants to continue to work with Gruber and Rescue One in the future by acquiring additional first aid-related products and using the company for CPR training.
According to Rescue One CEO Jeremy Gruber, a retired Montgomery County firefighter, AEDs, while not a household term, are key to saving lives in the event of a cardiac arrest.
"AEDs are like a smoke detector or an air bag; it's a safety device you don't need until you do," he said.
An AED can read a person's heart rhythm and render an electric shock needed to restore rhythm in the case of a cardiac arrest, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Each individual AED the city will receive delivers automated instructions to the user when turned on, which Gruber said makes them easy to use. AEDs save lives, Gruber said, and a person suffering from cardiac arrest has a 90 percent chance of survival if an AED is placed on their body within one minute. Gruber said those odds decrease by 7 to 10 percent for every subsequent minute, and those odds can be mitigated by effective CPR.
"CPR is like a refrigerator for the body, and it is important because it buys you time to get you an AED on site," said Gruber. "The early use of an AED has a huge effect on people's outcomes."
Gruber said the company has donated other AEDs to school systems and other governments, but that the volume of this donation, which is valued at approximately $125,000, is, in part, to raise awareness for the technology.
"This was a nice opportunity to create awareness and get other people to join in," said Gruber. "Hopefully people will take note and want to get something for themselves, because these programs save lives."
Moe said the city will place the AEDs, valued at $1,250 each, in all city buildings, all 68 Laurel Police squad cars and some other city-owned vehicles.
"I can't say enough about the donation he's made to our community," Moe said.
In addition, stickers with the letters "AED" and a heart emblazoned with a lightning bolt will be placed on all cars with AEDs installed.
According to Laurel Police Chief Richard McLaughlin, placing an AED in each squad car will have a dramatic effect on responding to cardiac arrest incidents within the city limits.
"Time is everything when it comes to cardiac arrest," said McLaughlin, who said the average police response time to an incident is two minutes.
"There have been scenarios where someone is having a heart attack, been dead, [and] this shocked them back and they walk out of the hospital the same day," McLaughlin said. 'It's a huge tool. The benefits are unbelievable."
While the donation is certainly a boon to the city, McLaughlin and Moe said that there are other AEDs scattered throughout the city, including places like fitness facilities, schools and restaurants. However, prior to the donation, there were no AEDs in police cars.
The next step, Moe said, is to get the word out about both AEDs and CPR.
"We want to reach out to the community," Moe said. "You bring the public in, you say, 'This is what it is. This is how you do it.' And they go on their way."