As part of National Heart Month, Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge donated devices to help treat someone whose heart has stopped.

“We are presenting 10 AEDs to McDowell County Public Schools,” said Kathy C. Bailey, chief executive officer and president of Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge. “Access to AEDs can save a life.”

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are lightweight, portable devices that deliver an electric shock through the chest to the heart. The shock can potentially stop an irregular heart beat and allow a normal rhythm to resume following sudden cardiac arrest or when your heart stops beating unexpectedly. If not treated within minutes, it quickly leads to death.

“We are thankful for the donation,” Garrett said. “These devices can be used on adults and children. We are excited that these AEDs will be in place and accessible at all times. Since they are portable, we can grab and go where needed. I think it’s important that we are prepared. McDowell County Schools appreciates that a partnership with Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge is making it possible for us to be proactive for the benefit of our communities. Thanks to this most recent contribution, we now have AEDs in all of our schools."

Bailey made the presentation of the AEDs and the mounted cabinets to McDowell School Superintendent Mark R. Garrett on February 22 at Nebo Elementary School joined by elementary school principals and school nurses.

“AEDs make it possible for nonmedical people to respond to an instance when someone’s heart stops,” Bailey said. “They are portable, easy to use, and they tell you every step to take. The quicker the response, the better chance a person has of surviving.”

A built-in computer checks a victim’s heart rhythm through electrodes. A recorded voice prompts the rescuer to press the shock button on the AED.

“We hope these devices will never have to be used,” Bailey said, “but we like knowing they’ll be here just in case. If we save one life, it’s money well spent.”