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P.O. Box 7800
Tavares, Florida 32778

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For immediate release - July 11, 2005

Association to honor Lake County with ‘Heart Ready Award’

TAVARES — The American Heart Association (AHA) recently announced Lake County is a “Heart Ready County” and will present an award to the Board of County Commissioners at its next meeting Tuesday, July 12, at 9 a.m.

Lake County is one of 10 Florida counties to be honored with the award. According to the AHA, a “Heart Ready County” excels in placing and tracking automated external defibrillators (AEDs), providing CPR training to County employees, having enhanced 9-1-1 and utilizing an emergency medical dispatch system.

“The efforts of Lake County are much needed,” wrote Nancy DeVault, Community Heart and Stroke Director of AHA, in a letter to the Lake County Department of Public Safety. “This year alone, the American Heart Association estimates 340,000 people will die from cardiac arrest.”

Lake County earned the AHA award with a joint effort between the Lake County Department of Public Safety Fire Rescue Division and Lake-Sumter Emergency Medical Services. This award recognizes the efforts of all public safety agencies within the County.

According to Jack Fillman, Lake County Fire Rescue Chief of emergency medical services and education, one of the reasons Lake County was able to secure the “Heart Ready Award” was because of Fire Rescue’s aggressive public access defibrillator program.

An AED is a small, lightweight device that looks at a person's heart rhythm (through special pads placed on the torso) and can recognize ventricular fibrillation, a lethal dysrhythmia found in "sudden cardiac arrest." If ventricular fibrillation is present, an AED will advise, and will talk the responder through some very simple steps to defibrillate.

Due to a decrease in cost over the past few years and change in state law, many organizations are purchasing AEDs for their communities. The Lake County Fire Rescue Division has assisted many groups in the County, including the neighborhoods of Plantation, Royal Highlands, Pennbrooke Fairways, Sun Lake, Town of Montverde and Harbor Hills, with purchasing and training community members on the AEDs.

“We send our firefighters out to train the residents of these communities,” Fillman said. “But we just don’t teach people about AEDs, we teach them CPR and how to properly use the AED.”

Along with training thousands of people over the last four years in CPR and AED, the Lake County Fire Rescue Division has also trained numerous County employees.

For more information about the Lake County Fire Rescue Division public access defibrillator program that is open to community groups and private businesses, call (352) 343-9458.


Contact information:
Christopher Patton
Communications Coordinator
Office: (352) 343-9609; Cell: (352) 455-0445

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