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Start a heart, save a life

Your coworker is having a heart attack. A defibrillator could shock the heart and restore a normal heart beat. There’s a good possibility you have a defibrillator in your building, but the possibility is greater that you don’t know where it is or how to use it.

Emergency situations can arise at any location on a college campus, says WSU Fire Marshall Rod Holmes. Students, instructors and guests of all ages visit campus, creating a diverse population.
Having access to an automated external defibrillator (AED) and understanding how to use it can save lives, he said. Most people have seen AEDs on TV medical shows as two paddles applied to the chest that make the body jump.

“Not everyone has taken a CPR course,” Holmes said. “The average person trained in first aid is still hesitant, and very few people step up and do. An AED helps make that easier.”

AEDs are located at various locations across campus, Holmes said. The Student Recreation Center, Athletics Department, Facility Operations and various academic departments have purchased AEDs.

But no one at WSU has a map or list of where all defibrillators are located. Even in buildings where they have been installed, employees often are unaware.

Although anyone is able to assist in an emergency situation and use an AED, Holmes recommends that people take classes and become certified.

“I think everyone should be trained in CPR,” Holmes said. “Why not take the extra time and add in the AED training while there?”

In new campus buildings, Holmes works to purchase and install AEDs. He also hopes to acquire some for existing buildings.

“With older buildings, funding becomes an issue,” Holmes said. New buildings can be planned to allow room in the budget for a piece of equipment worth more than $1,000. The fire department recommends that people obtain semi-automated machines because they explain more precisely what is required and, thus, are safer for amateurs to use.

Departments and units interested in purchasing an AED can go through a process with the Pullman Fire Department that requires certain steps, including training of personnel before installation, said Mike Heston, operations chief for the Pullman Fire Department.

Classes in CPR, first aid and AED use are offered year-round through University Recreation at the Student Recreation Center. For more information, see

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