State Parks are wonderful places, many of them with vast stretches of remote wild beauty offering opportunities to hike, bike, boat, camp, and experience unspoiled wilderness. When emergencies arise, quick action can mean a better outcome. When the emergency is sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), immediate action can mean the difference between life and death. Having an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) nearby to treat a state park visitor experiencing SCA offers peace of mind to visitors and park staff alike.
South Carolina State Parks protect more than 80,000 acres ranging from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the sand dunes of the Atlantic. The South Carolina State Parks Service recognized the value of protecting its guests and employees and started an initiative to place AEDs at every one of its 47 parks. Mark Dudley, Chief of Park Operations, and 32 year veteran of the SC State Park Service, explains how it got started.
“Like other states, our parks are located on beaches, lakes and in the mountains; providing many opportunities for outdoor recreation such as hiking, swimming, biking, golfing, camping, fishing, etc,” said Dudley. “Unfortunately, with the number of visitors we host, there is the opportunity for injuries, illnesses, and sometimes worse cases. Most of our parks’ personnel are required to complete annual CPR/First Aid/AED training provided by Park Service certified instructors. A few years ago, the question was posed as to why we were having an AED training session when we only had less than 10 AEDs at parks (we have 47 state parks).”
But AEDs are not cheap, and their Director challenged parks to seek alternate funding or donations to equip more parks with these life-saving devices. Lou Fontana, a Corporate Affairs staff member for the Parks Service, went to work contacting and working with entities on donations, sponsorships, partnerships, etc. Lou spearheaded much of the fundraising efforts through mailings, phone calls, and other networking opportunities. Dudley tells us, “We were pretty successful, initially, creating some positive publicity for the program. Pretty soon we had businesses, hospitals, and other entities even contacting us asking to help. It was then that we made a goal of having an AED in every state park in SC.”
To date, 42 state parks have an AED and, as of September 23, every state park will have at least one AED thanks to the South Carolina Office of Rural Health which will be presenting AEDs to several statewide agencies at their conference. The SC State Parks Service was fortunate enough to be awarded five – helping them complete their goal. The Office of Rural Health is not the only organization to help the cause. “Funding for the devices was presented to us by various entities ranging from hospitals/hospital foundations, private individuals, private corporations and individual park “Friends Groups”. Some actual AEDs were donated to us by county EMS offices, hospitals and nonprofit organizations,” says Dudley.
AED Superstore learned of the program when Mark contacted us to purchase some AEDs with donated funds. “I began searching the Internet for pricing and saw that AED Superstore was very competitive,” he said. “Patti [in Customer Care] has been very easy to work with. She has always been available when needed, answered all my initial questions, worked with us on pricing options and seemed excited about our project. The billing was made simple and we have had no problems with shipping. She made the purchasing process as simple as possible.” According to Mark, the key to a successful AED program initiative is good publicity (media, social media, etc.) and persistence.
If you would like to find out more about the South Carolina Park Service, you can visit www.southcarolinaparks.com.
If you are interested in starting an AED program in your community, call our expert customer service staff at 1-800-544-0048.