10 new AEDs added to Vail, Beaver Creek mountains
AIL — Five years ago, Lynn Blake mapped out every location she felt automated external defibrillators — otherwise known as AEDs — were needed in the Eagle County area.
“The chairlifts on Vail and Beaver Creek Mountains were the first locations I identified,” Blake said on Saturday, June 2, from the bottom of Gondola One in Vail. “It’s awesome to be here five years later and to actually see those visions come to fruition.”
Unveiled on Saturday, the new addition of 10 public access defibrillators on Vail and Beaver Creek mountains brings the total to 400 in our area, Vail Mayor Dave Chapin told the crowd gathered at the unveiling.
“That’s the highest per capita in the country,” Chapin said.
In 2007 Blake’s life was saved by a defibrillator, and she has since dedicated it to seeing more AEDs installed in Eagle County.
“It’s part of a much bigger plan to make Eagle County the safest place to experience sudden cardiac arrest,” she said.
A representative from Philips Healthcare attended the event and talked about the company’s partnership with Starting Hearts.
“We’ve launched programs of this kind in Vienna and other places in Europe, but this is the first in the U.S.,” said Defibrillator District Manager Anthony Verdeja. “And what a place to have it … you guys live in a beautiful area; these devices fit well here.”
The relationship with Philips Healthcare is a serendipitous one, as Starting Hearts executive director Alan Himelfarb met the CEO of Philips when they found themselves seated on the same chairlift at Vail.
Verdeja said the relationship blossomed from there — the new technology in Philips’ defibrillators will make them even more effective in saving lives. The technology is called SmartLink.
“It automatically checks the defibrillator every day and sends us a report that the device is fully functional,” Himelfarb said. “This is spectacular because we’ve found here in Eagle County, with all these devices, many times people put them in a closet or cabinet and don’t really pay attention to them, and realize that the electrodes have to be replaced every two years, the batteries have to be replaced, and so the devices sometimes are not ready.”
CALL, PUSH, SHOCK
Eagle County commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry is a volunteer on Vail Mountain.
“Knowing these AEDs are strategically placed is really crucial,” she said. “I’m a mountain host, so it’s a sense of comfort knowing that there’s help out there.”
Brice May of the Vail Ski Patrol said he became aware of Starting Hearts’ “Call, Push, Shock,” CPR education program through a ski patroller who was also a volunteer with Starting Hearts.
“I had not done (Call, Push, Shock),” May said. “Lynn came over, trained me in it, and it resonated immediately. We went out as the ski patrol and taught over 800 employees and first responders CPR.”
May’s training took care of the call and push components of the CPR training. The shock came next.
“Lynn had talked about having some hurdles within Vail Resorts … and I was like, ‘I know all those people and everybody’s going to support it,’” May said. “And sure enough, they did. And I gotta thank Vail Resorts, because as soon as I started making these calls, everybody was on board.”