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AED box located in Grover Center at Ohio University, Athens, March 25, 2024.

Campus groups works to increase AED accessibility on campus

Student senate introduced an initiative to increase the number of Automated External Defibrillators, or AED, on Ohio University’s Athens campus. 

There are currently 64 active AED machines located in various buildings throughout campus and only one dormitory, Boyd Hall, has one inside it, but it is located at the entrance to the dining hall and campus market.

Mae Thomas, a freshman studying political science, is the residence life commissioner within the senate and introduced this initiative. Thomas said she had the idea when another senator came to her with concern about student safety in residence halls in a life-or-death situation.  

“There was really only one residence hall with an AED and so I wanted to fix that,” Thomas said. “In December, I and my commission passed a bill for a web page to be uploaded, and for five AEDs to be implemented in residential greens.” 

To maintain uniformity within residence halls, the initiative aims to place AEDs in residential green hubs, which include laundry rooms and green centers, Thomas said. 

Jneanne Hacker, director for Housing and Residence Life, said part of this initiative used to include the implementation of CPR training for resident advisers but is being worked on separately because RAs are not allowed to touch students even in times of emergency.

“Housing and Residence Life would like to note that although trained in a variety of ways to meet the needs of their residents, RAs are not first responders and cannot provide the same care as trained professionals,” Hacker said.

Recently the Emergency Nursing Club, ENC, which is a Bobcat Student Nursing Student Organization, raised funds to install three AED machines in Grover Center. 

Lacey Douglas, advisor for ENC, said the club raising $500 to contribute to the purchasing of AED machines. There is one machine on each floor, each located by the elevator. 

“Dr. Dean McCarthy was already in the process, and we did not know it, recognizing this issue as well,” Douglas said. “We reached out to him and said, we're looking at these AEDs and as part of what the emergency nursing club wants to do and contribute.”

The lack of access to AED machines is not just a college issue, Douglas said, it is also an issue experienced throughout the community. 

“This is also a problem in hospitals, there's a problem with local sporting events and so forth,” Douglas said. ”I think that awareness is really important.”

Douglas also said she believes AEDs in residence halls would be beneficial because of the research that shows early defibrillation is the key to saving someone’s life.  

“If there's an emergency in that hall, and people are aware of where that AED is, obviously the outcomes are probably going to be better because they have earlier and easier access to that device,” Douglas said

Thomas said she and her commission would like to meet the goal of the three-minute rule, which is having access to an AED machine within three minutes.

“Another reason why this (initiative) is important is to make sure that an ad is within three minutes of wherever you are because AEDs work the best if they are accessed within three minutes,” Thomas said. 

Housing and Residence Life is still working with the senate’s Residence Life commission to finalize details regarding the AED installation, and encourages students with any health concerns to visit Campus Care or call 9-1-1 in an emergency, Hacker said.

“Every second counts when it comes to a true medical emergency,” Douglas said. “Research and evidence shows that the quicker a patient is in ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation, and they don't have a pulse, the number one thing that's going to save them is an early defibrillation.”


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