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Defibrillators Bring New Level of Safety to City Buildings

Inside view of a defibrillator kit. The American Rescue Plan funds paid for 50 defibrillators to be distributed throughout City departments.

ARP, Fire - September 15, 2022

Thanks to a distribution from the City’s American Rescue Plan funds, 50 new defibrillators – medical devices that can rescue victims of sudden cardiac arrest – are being distributed throughout city departments.

City officials are taking a proactive approach in providing the machines in case any of the hundreds of individuals who visit City buildings each month ever suffers a dangerous heart malfunction.

“We have all of these people in City Hall, and if somebody were to go down, we would have no way of helping them,” said Barry Finley, the Youngstown fire chief. “Now we do. This is an important investment in the safety and well-being of those who work in our departments and those we serve.”

Allocations of $86,475 in Rescue Plan funds paid for the 50 automated external defibrillators, as they are formally called, and 32 emergency medical kits, all from Philips.

A defibrillator is an advanced but easy-to-use portable device that can analyze a person’s heart rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help restore a normal heartbeat. Because they come with written and spoken instructions and can be used instantly, even by individuals without medical training, they have saved many lives.

Previously, older defibrillators were set up only at fire stations, Finley said. The new ones are in place at the stations and in every fire department vehicle, and are or will soon be ready in the Water Department, Health Department supervisor’s vehicle, Parks and Recreation Department’s summer camp office, City Hall and Municipal Court (three total, one for each floor).

All 116 fire department employees have been trained to use the defibrillators. Finley and his staff provide 10-minute training sessions to employees in other offices with the devices.

Each of the emergency kits includes hypoallergenic nitrile gloves, a pocket breathing mask, paramedic scissors, a chest hair razor and a large extra-absorbent paper towel. They are for use outside the fire department, which has these items.

So far, no one has used the new defibrillators, and that’s just fine for Finley.

“I think the old ones that we had, they were used maybe twice,” he said. “That’s one of those things where if you need it, you need it. Just doing CPR may not be enough.”