The Rice Thresher
by Ian Everhart
For the Thresher
The Rice University Recreation Center recently purchased and installed an Automated External Defibrillator, the device used by medics to jumpstart the hearts of cardiac arrest patients.
Rice Emergency Medical Services Captain David Melville said REMS and the Rice University Police Department already had defibrillators at their disposal, but the new unit is different because it is accessible to the public.
"The innovation that Autry Court has is that it's public-access defibrillation," Melville, a Martel College senior, said. "Any individual in the public can access the AED ... and use it."
Melville said the aquatics department made the initial request for the unit, so it was installed in the corridor between the pool and the men's and women's locker rooms.
"[Aquatics] wanted to put something by the pool because it's part of the lifeguard and water-rescue protocols," he said.
Melville said the Public Access Defibrillator units are contained in cabinets that will send a silent alarm to REMS when opened. An Emergency Medical Technician will be dispatched to the site to provide care, but Melville said the person at the PAD unit will be able to play a decisive role.
Melville said the unit is important because after the first five minutes of a cardiac arrest, a person's chances for survival decrease significantly.
The most common cause for cardiac arrest is uncoordinated electric pulses within the heart. Defibrillators work by delivering an electric shock to the heart that resets those pulses and may restart the heart.
Melville said the training required to use the unit is minimal. Instructions are given both via a digital display screen and a recorded voice playing on a speaker.
"You pull it out, turn it on, [and] the machine instructs you and tells you what to do," he said. "It's very simple to use. Seven-year-old children can use this thing with five minutes of training."
Although the Rec Center paid for the new defibrillator from its own budget, Melville said REMS facilitated the project. He also said REMS was petitioning the university for funds to subsidize other departments' purchase of defibrillators.
Melville said one will be installed in the next few weeks in the Facilities and Engineering break room and that more PAD sites will be put up in months to come in the new Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management building, the Student Center and other high-traffic areas.
"We haven't had to use them in the past several years - we've been lucky," Melville said.
There have been nine REMS calls on campus for cardiac arrest since REMS was established in 1995, and the last cardiac arrest on campus was in December of 2000.