Units allow lifesaving treatment for cardiac events ‘until first responders arrive’
Henrico County is installing automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at its parks and outdoor recreation areas in response to increased participation in strenuous activities and related medical calls.
“More active sports are taking place at county facilities,” said Rob Rowley, chief of Emergency Management and Workplace Safety. “Residents don’t just walk or play on the playgrounds. They now have the option of playing pickleball or even cricket.”
For example, the county has 26 pickleball courts at four locations and a cricket field at Deep Run Park.
So far, the county has installed 11 AEDs at county parks, with 22 additional units scheduled for parks and recreation areas as supply chains allow. In addition, 21 AEDs will be placed outdoors at schools starting this fall. AEDs are already installed inside many county facilities, schools and recreation centers.
“AEDs are useful for treating cardiac events until first responders arrive,” Rowley said.
The decision to install the units in outdoor areas came after residents approached Three Chopt District Supervisor Tommy M. Branin over the summer. He brought the suggestion to the Division of Fire and the Department of Emergency Management and Workplace Safety. Within a week, the Division of Recreation & Parks had began to install the units.
“It’s a natural progression to place them in outdoor spaces,” Rowley said.
The number of AEDs installed at each park will depend on its size; smaller parks may need only one unit, while larger parks may have as many as four.
To open an AED cabinet, users must call 911 to get an access code. Emergency dispatchers will guide callers on using an AED while emergency medical personnel respond to the scene.
Each cabinet is weatherproof, heated and powered, and features LED lighting for better visibility.
“AEDs are a good investment for the open areas that people use for physical, mental and social health,” Rowley said. “They are also good to have at the many events held in the county that support its economic growth.”