Devices with the potential to save lives by restarting hearts have been delivered to some of Christian County’s busiest buildings.

The Christian County Ambulance District delivered automated external defibrillator (AED) machines to the Christian County Circuit Court building on June 27, celebrating a collaborative effort between the ambulance district and Christian County to place the machines on every floor of every building where Christian County conducts public business.

Sheriff’s deputies initially proposed the need for AED devices in four public buildings that house county government offices: the Christian County Historic Courthouse, the Christian County Justice Center and the Christian County Circuit Court Building, all in downtown Ozark, plus the Christian County Resource Center on West Jackson Street.

One AED will be placed on each floor of each building, for a total of nine. The Christian County Ambulance District Board of Directors will decide where the 10th AED goes. Christian County Ambulance District Director Christie Thompson explained that the county and the ambulance district saved money by purchasing 10 AEDs instead of nine.

“We pretty much went through and did the quote process, trying to find the best company for the best price for both sides to pay the money for the equipment,” Thompson said.

Thompson explained that the ambulance district’s diligence led to a net savings of about $800 per unit. The AED project is a 50-50 even cost split between the ambulance district and Christian County.

The AED machine can be used to automatically diagnose life-threatening cardiac events, such as cardiac arrest.

“Typically when somebody goes into cardiac arrest or when their heart stops beating, that is when this AED machine is brought into play. It’s usually either no rhythm or an inaccurate rhythm to allow normal function for the body,” Thompson said.

The AED uses electricity to restore a patient’s normal heart rhythm.

“It’s supposed to restart the heart back into a normal rhythm, or if it’s not in a normal rhythm, it can help kick it back into one,” Thompson said.

Every second matters when someone’s heart stops beating. Thompson said the AED will help buy a patient time as EMTs rush to the scene, and increase the chances for a live being saved.

“Anything over six or seven minutes, the mortality rate starts to increase in cardiac arrest situations. An average ambulance response time in this area can be 8-10 minutes, and that’s in a close proximity to the call. Having (AEDs) in the public spaces will increase the lifesaving efforts for those that do go into cardiac arrest,” Thompson said.

AED training is typically brought up in CPR training sessions, which the Christian County Ambulance District provides to the public on a monthly basis. The AEDs on the Justice Center campus, however, are designed to be used without any formal training.

“It can be deployed by any layperson in the community. You don’t have to have any AED training to necessarily know how it works. You open the lid, it prompts you to do everything, there is one hands-on process, and after that point the machine does everything on its own,” Thompson said. “The easier, the better.”

Over the past two years, the ambulance district has worked to place 20 AEDs in public buildings across Christian County. The devices in the courthouses will be familiar to emergency responders.

“This brand and model right here is compatible with not only what the fire department uses but what our ambulance district uses. If this is deployed and used within this facility, our ambulance shows up. Not only can they disconnect and automatically plug in to our machines, but we are also able to return the power patches, so without waiting to order special equipment, this unit goes right back into service,” Thompson said.

Christian County Presiding Commissioner Ralph Phillips called the AED purchases a win-win-win for the county, the ambulance district and the public.

“It was a collaborative effort and it just kind of fell together—just (Thompson) and I talking and talking with (Christian County Sheriff’s Office) Capt. (Thomas) Koch,” Phillips said. “We saw the need and it fell into place.”

Phillips thanked the ambulance district for helping the county buy the best equipment possible.

“That’s their lane, and (Thompson) taught me a lot about this stuff,” Phillips said. “It’s like any other products, there are some out there—you know, they meet the standards, but are they reliable? Are they as reliable for the same amount of money?”

Annual performance maintenance on the AED machines will be provided by CoxHealth at no cost to the county.

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