Fifty new defibrillators will be placed at parks, beaches and pools throughout the Town of Hempstead, officials announced Wednesday as they demonstrated how to use the potentially lifesaving devices.
At Shell Creek Park in Island Park, Town Supervisor Anthony Santino knelt over a town employee laid out on the grass and placed electrode pads on the man’s chest. The town’s medical director sat nearby and simulated CPR before a fake shock from the device was delivered to the man.
“When a victim is suffering from a cardiac incident, every minute counts, and that’s why it’s so important that these lifesaving devices are literally within reach throughout our community,” Santino said.
The defibrillators, which cost $1,500 each, were provided by St. Francis Hospital in Flower Hill and Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, which received funding through a state contract. The devices will double the number of defibrillators installed throughout the town, and personnel will soon be trained to use them, a spokesman for the town said.
Jack Vobis, president of the Island Park Little League, said he contacted the Town of Hempstead to request more defibrillators at local parks. He brought a small group of Little Leaguers and their parents to watch the demonstration Wednesday.
“Hopefully we’ll never need to use them, but it’s reassuring to know that we’ll now have access to these devices,” Vobis said. “You never know when something’s gonna happen.”
There are more than 350,000 cardiac arrest cases a year in the United States, and only 10 percent of those victims survive, according to the American Heart Association. But in instances where a victim is immediately administered CPR and defibrillation, their chances of survival are doubled.
Dave Neubert, the town’s medical director, said it’s “rare, but common enough to worry about” for children to succumb to cardiac failure while playing sports.
“If kids are hit in the chest by a line drive or tackled in football, that blunt force trauma can disrupt the heart’s rhythm and can cause them to go into cardiac arrest,” Neubert said. “The only way to treat that is to immediately apply a defibrillator and then that will be instantly lifesaving for that child.”
Toni Egan, 45, of Island Park, attended Wednesday’s news conference with her daughter, Emmalee, 10, who plays softball in the Island Park Little League and wears a chest protector while she pitches.
“I know it’s something that doesn’t happen often, but it’s still a great relief to have them here,” Egan said.