‘Don’t wait for the help, be the help:’ Public AED opens in Howard Amon Park

Officials say the nationwide survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest is between 3-5%. It’s upwards of 50% in Richland, but RFD says we can do better.

RICHLAND, Wash. — The Richland Fire Department (RFD) unveiled the installation of a new public-access AED station in Howard Amon Park. The City is on its way to increase survival rates for cardiac arrest.

“They say often lightning doesn’t strike twice, but that’s not true with cardiac arrest. If you have one in a location, you’re likely to have one again,” said Battalion Chief Michael Van Beek.

He said Howard Amon Park has seen several cardiac arrests over the years, which is why it’s the location for the first Tri-Cities public-access AED station.

“By empowering the public with quick access to an AED, they now have the power to save a life,” said Van Beek.

The survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest is low across the nation.

“Survival rates have been absolutely terrible, abysmal, maybe somewhere in the neighborhood of 3% to 5% chance of survival,” said Dr. Kevin Hodges with Kadlec Regional Medical Center.

The City has worked hard to increase that percentage.

“To help the professional rescuers to improve that cardiac arrest survival rate out of hospitals to 60, 70, 75, 80%; numbers I wouldn’t have thought were possible in the past, and it’s all due to efforts like this,” said Dr. Hodges. Efforts like this are initiatives like Heart Safe Richland, whose motto is, ‘Don’t wait for the help. Be the help.’

RELATED: Heart Safe Richland community initiative offers free Hands-Only CPR classes

“We need action from lay-providers, from the community, from the public to start CPR and if an AED is available, find AED and use it,” said Van Beek.

Using an automated external defibrillator (AED)

If you see someone in cardiac arrest, officials say to call 911, start CPR and then have someone use the AED.

An alarm sounds at the Howard Amon AED, but Van Beek said don’t be afraid of it. Once the case is open, the AED is ready to use.

“It will walk you through everything,” said Van Beek. “It’s designed for someone who has no training for the AED.”

Despite the progress, Van Beek said there’s still a long way to go.

“That survival rate here in the city is upwards of 50% which is something we’re really proud of. But we can always do better and that’s and that’s why we’re here today,” he said.

The RFD is looking to make these AEDs available all throughout the Tri-Cities, but they’re looking for the support of the community.

“We’re really looking for community engagement and people to sponsor these Save Stations,” said Van Beek.

You can find details and contact information about sponsoring an AED station here.

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