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Community Profiles

Polk County, Florida

If your image of Florida is miles of leafy orange groves speckled with ripening fruit, chances are you're picturing Polk County. Located in the heart of Florida, Polk County ranks first in the state for citrus grove area, and second in amount of farmland. Covering an area roughly the size of Delaware, Polk County has many attractions, like the historic Bok wildlife sanctuary, that draw tourists from across the country.

But what makes Polk County truly the heart of Florida has more to do with healthcare than geography. Community leaders are working towards a common goal of making Polk Country a safer place for victims of sudden cardiac arrest.

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Bensalem, Pennsylvania

Benjamin Franklin - printer, inventor, diplomat, Founding Father - ventured out of Philadelphia regularly to visit his daughter in Bensalem, a small town on the the Delaware river to the northwest of the city. It was on one of these trips in 1752 that Franklin reportedly conducted his famous kite experiment, proving that lightning is an electric spark on a spectacular scale.

Of course, had Franklin conducted the experiment as legend has it, he would have received a shock strong enough to stop his heart. So it is strangely fitting that Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the Bensalem community partner today to help improve the chances of survival for victims of sudden cardiac arrest.

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West Palm Beach, Florida

Amongst the glamour and glitter of West Palm Beach's upscale shopping, fine dining, luxury accommodations, and sun-drenched coast is a well-executed program for helping victims of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

Under the guidance of Dr. Randall Wolff, medical director for West Palm Beach and five other municipalities, and EMS Chief Dave Dyal, Palm Beach County currently houses an estimated 500 public access and first response automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Shopping areas, nightclubs, golf courses, private residential communities, city and county buildings, schools, and the performing arts center are a few of the places that feature these life-saving devices. In the past two years alone (2001-2), seven lucky SCA victims owe their lives to an AED.

New Bedford, Massachusetts

"Around the World!" shouted the men aboard the whaling ships that embarked from New Bedford's legendary harbor and traveled to far-flung corners of the globe in search of whale oil . Herman Melville, who shipped out of New Bedford in 1841, used his whaling experience as the basis for the novel Moby Dick.

Generations later, the same enthusiasm and pioneering spirit have again taken hold in New Bedford, but this time to serve a different goal. In a matter of months, the public and private sectors have joined forces to create and deploy a cohesive early defibrillation program to protect its citizens from the fatal effects of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

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Cookeville, Tennessee

Although it's impossible to predict when or where sudden cardiac arrest will strike, or who its victims might be, there's a better chance of survival if you happen to be stricken in the city of Cookeville,Tennessee. The 26-square-mile community of 26,000 has more automated external defibrillators (AEDs) per capita than most U.S. cities. This means chances are excellent that someone can get an AED to a cardiac arrest victim within one to five minutes to administer the shock vital for restoring normal heartbeat and saving life. Cookeville, with a unique small-town blend of farmland, retail, manufacturing and college life, began implementing a community-wide AED program in 1998 with the clear goal of saving more lives.

"We wanted to make our community one where the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest is better than anywhere else," said Cookeville Fire Chief Gene Schmid, whose department was instrumental in executing the city's AED program, as well as coordinating and overseeing private sector initiatives.

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Galveston, Texas

Galveston, Texas, is a bustling island home to more than 70,000 people. Galveston offers its many citizens and visitors plenty to see and do, with its miles of beaches, thriving art district, and theatres featuring Broadway musicals and award-winning plays. It also has a long history, dating back to the early 1500's when the Akokisa Indians called Galveston.

The infamous pirate, Jean Lafitte, also settled there. When forced to leave, Lafitte held a wild party, burning his settlement down and reportedly leaving his buried treasure behind, never to be found. Today, there is real treasure in Galveston, a spirit of enthusiasm toward saving the lives of men, women, and children who fall victim to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

Montgomery County, Texas

Montgomery County, Texas, spans 1,100 square miles and comprises a unique mix of urban, suburban, and deeply rural areas, which about 216,000 people call “home.”

In 1998, the Montgomery County Hospital District (MCHD) sought to achieve timely defibrillation for victims of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Rather than put more ambulances on the road, MCHD officials decided to take a more cost-effective route, and deploy portable automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) throughout Montgomery County.

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Everett, Washington

Everett, Washington is home to the world's largest aircraft manufacturer's facility, a community college, a Naval station with an aircraft carrier plus several support ships, and a deep-water port which serves as a freight facility to and from the Pacific Rim countries. Everett is also the county seat for Snohomish County. Historically a lumber and mill town, Everett has a steady population of 95,990. However, a high-tech influx and active local industry has caused the city to experience a transformation in recent years, resulting in a daytime population that swells to 120,000.

There are 160+ Philips AEDs in strategic locations throughout Snohomish County. Everett's aggressive “public access defibrillation” or PAD program makes the city a safer place to be for its residents and daytime visitors in the event of sudden cardiac arrest.

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Kitsap, Washington

In some places in Kitsap County, Washington, a picturesque bedroom community west of Seattle that consists of a peninsula and an island, the nearest hospital is almost an hour away - and that's under the best of conditions. When bad weather docks the ferry, grounds the medical airlift and closes the bridge, people in need of advanced emergency trauma care have to take the longer land route to Seattle, a drive that can take an hour-and-a-half.

The geographical constraints of the 400-square mile County, plus the desire to provide the utmost in emergency healthcare to the 230,000 residents living there, spurred Kitsap's emergency medical officials to initiate a comprehensive county-wide automated external defibrillator (AED) program in 1997. They specifically set out to impact the survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), a condition that strikes people without warning and is fatal unless an electric shock is delivered to the heart via a defibrillator within minutes of onset.

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Snohomish County, Washington

Eleven years ago while teaching fifth grade at Mt. Pilchuck Elementary School (Washington), a tragic event occurred. During one of my lectures, the school's physical education teacher brought an unconscious third grade student into my classroom. The boy had gone into cardiac arrest as a result of complications from a seizure.

CPR was performed until Snohomish County Fire Protection District #8 (SCFPD#8) personnel arrived. They were able to restart the boy's heart, but critical time had elapsed without

Whitewater, Wisconsin

When Captain Tom Schopen of the Whitewater, Wisconsin Rescue Squad first learned to use the Heartstream automated external defibrillator (AED), he didn't imagine it would save a loved one's life. However, that's exactly what happened. Just days after Whitewater purchased their first AEDs, a unit was used to save the life of Tom's wife, Judy.

This startling incident emphasizes the truth about Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA); it can happen to anyone, at any time, without warning.

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