(WKBW release) Univera Healthcare has donated eight automated external defibrillator units to the Wyoming County Sheriff's Office.
The donation is part of an initiative the health insurer launched several years ago to get AED units in widespread use throughout its eight-county service area. Buffalo-based Univera Healthcare has members across Western New York, including in Wyoming County.
"In rural parts of our service area, the first responder to a sudden cardiac arrest is likely to be a sheriff's deputy, which is why we approached Sheriff Heimann with our offer of AED units," said Art Wingerter, Univera Healthcare president.
According to Wyoming County Sheriff Farris Heimann, his department had a number of AED units in service, but not enough to completely equip its fleet of vehicles.
"With the addition of these eight AEDs, our department now has 17 units deployed to help protect the people of Wyoming County," Wyoming County Sheriff Farris Heimann said. "These units will save lives."
An additional 40,000 lives could be saved each year in the United States alone with widespread access to defibrillators, according to the American Heart Association.
The current national survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest is less than 5 percent. When it happens, every second counts, since permanent brain damage can occur within minutes. Immediate use of an AED, in conjunction with cardiopulmonary resuscitation offers a chance at survival.
"The likelihood of successful resuscitation decreases by about 10 percent with every minute that passes, which is why it is so important that we have these devices with us out in the county," said Heimann.
The AED units Univera Healthcare has donated are state-of-the-art Philips HeartStart Defibrillators that retail for about $2,500 each. The units are the size of a child's lunch box and are fully automated. The unit issues voice commands to coach the user in its operation, including coaching the proper administration of CPR and providing a metronome beat to count and time chest compressions. If the unit's chest pads sense a pulse, it will not allow an electrical charge to be administered.
"These are amazing devices and Univera Healthcare is pleased to be able to get more of them in use in Wyoming County." said Wingerter.