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June 16, 2024

University installs AEDs on campus

October 5, 2006

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were installed in UW-River Falls buildings in August to help equip students, staff and faculty with an essential life-saving device for cardiac arrest victims.

An AED is a portable machine used to restore normal heart rhythm to a victim of heart failure.

According to the American Heart Association, the machines are the only effective way to restart a heart. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that about 340,000 victims die from sudden cardiac arrest each year.

A total of 19 AEDs were strategically placed in every campus building, including the lab farms and the security vehicles, with the help from River Falls Area Ambulance Service Director Jeff Rixmann.

“They are meant to be accessible,” said Alice Reilly-Myklebust, director of Student Health Services. “We worked with the ambulance to make sure we put them in appropriate places.”

Rixmann said the AEDs were placed according to the traffic volume of campus buildings.

“When placing them, there are two determining things: the volume of the area and the ease of access,” Rixmann said.

Public Safety is responsible for scheduling training sessions in collaboration with the RFAAS and will ensure its officers check the machines regularly.

The campus AEDs were funded through a major equipment request, which was a group effort by Public Safety and Risk Management, the Dean for Student Development and Campus Diversity, Student Health Services and RFAAS.

“[AEDs] are a life safety issue that we want to have available if someone goes into cardiac arrest,” Director of Public Safety Mark Kimball said.

There has been a nationwide trend in schools, workplaces and communities to install AEDs in buildings. Almost all the UW System schools have installed them throughout their campuses in the past few years.

The city of River Falls has 100 machines placed in public buildings, one of which has already saved a life. Only a couple weeks after an AED was installed in the River Falls Youth Hockey rink, a grandparent of a hockey player went into cardiac arrest, according to Public Health Nurse Dianne H. Robinson from Pierce County.

“A group of medical professionals were present and were able to save him before the ambulance came,” Robinson said. “The neat thing about this experience is that it had been there only less than two weeks.”

Fortunately, the AEDs on campus have not been used since they were installed.

“There hasn’t been a real opportunity to use them,” Kimball said.

AED and CPR training sessions will be offered Oct. 17 at 10 a.m. and Oct. 19 at 3 p.m. in the International Room of the Student Center. The free one-hour sessions are being offered to educate students, staff and faculty to use the new devices.

“We want to make training voluntary,” Kimball said. “It is targeted more towards staff on campus, but it would be beneficial for students.”

People who helped organize the installation of the machines on campus encourage others to attend the training sessions.

“I think the sessions are a good opportunity for students to learn something new that could save someone’s life,” UW-RF student Kaitlin Grady said. “Plus, it’s free.”

Kimball said about 30 to 40 people attended the previous two sessions, which were offered in September.

“If there’s more interest we will put on more training sessions,” he said.

Training sessions will be offered annually on campus for updates and review. Rixmann said people who want to become certified can also take a training session for a low cost through the Wellness Center at the River Falls Hospital.

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