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Our View: OFPD program will save lives

Updated: March 2, 2013 6:15AM



We’ve been critical previously of the Orland Fire Protection District for its board’s political infighting, its high property tax rate and its excessive spending, especially on its payroll.

As of last summer, the district had about 80 employees getting six-figure salaries, its starting pay was about $20,000 more than the Chicago Fire Department and its budget was the highest in the suburbs except for Aurora.

But today we offer praise for the fire district and its Community CARE program, which hopes to get grant money to install automatic external defibrillators, or AEDs, in businesses to save lives. Officials cite the district’s aging population as a factor in their decision to create the program.

The hand-held AEDs monitor the heartbeat and deliver an electrical charge to someone in cardiac arrest. They provide audio and visual prompts to users, so even people without training are usually able to operate them properly.

How many of the machines the district can acquire will depend on how much it can get through grants and private donations. We wish it well in its fundraising for the program. AEDs aren’t cheap, costing about $2,300 on average, but they have proved effective in preventing heart attack deaths.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly 300,000 Americans a year experience cardiac arrest outside a hospital, and 92 percent of them die from it.

The American Heart Association says at least 20,000 lives could be saved annually by using AEDs, and with widespread use of them by trained operators up to 50,000 such deaths could be prevented each year. Orland Battalion Chief Raymond Kay, who’s heading Community CARE, said use of an AED quickly after someone has a heart attack can mean a survival rate of about 90 percent. Those are impressive figures.

The Orland fire district would join more public safety and transportation agencies in trying to expand the use of AEDs. Metra this month is installing 300 on its trains. It’s a sensible and comforting trend and one that we hope gains momentum.



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