FREEPORT — Following donations from residents and organizations in town, the Fire Department is hoping to purchase four new automatic external defibrillators.
The Town Council unanimously accepted donations of just under $7,800 for the purchase. If the decision is approved at a public hearing Sept. 2, the AEDs will be purchased and placed in several places around town.
“What we’re trying to do is get the AEDs into community assembly centers,” Deputy Fire Chief Paul Conley said.
AEDs can save the lives of people who experience cardiac arrest. Conley said that while it’s helpful to have CPR training to operate the machinery, anyone can use an AED if they follow the prompts. He said it is not possible to accidentally harm someone with the machine by using it improperly.
Conley said an important location for one of the AEDs is the Freeport Community Center. He said he asked the Freeport Rotary Club to sponsor the project with a grant, and the club was able to donate almost $1,900.
The AED donation account also has almost $2,000 from the Freeport Fire Auxiliary, $1,000 from the Freeport Women’s Club and almost $1,800 from Matt and Michele Morrison. Other money in the fund came from small prior donations.
Conley said another top priority is getting the machines into all Freeport schools. He said he also wants one at the Freeport Performing Arts Center.
Six devices are needed to cover all of town, Conley said, but there is only enough money for four. He said each machine and cabinet costs $1,700.
Town Hall, the library, the recycling center and public works already have AEDs. Also, all Freeport ambulances have AEDs and five fire vehicles have machines. Conley said several local businesses have them as well, and that L.L. Bean has a few dozen.
Conley said AEDs are becoming increasingly common, and he wants Freeport to be a part of that trend.
“We’re starting to see them as commonly as fire extinguishers,” he said.
Purchasing more AEDs will also help Freeport maintain its designation as a Heart Safe community. The standing is determined by the Maine Emergency Medical Services Board and the Maine Cardiovascular Health Council. Conley said the new AEDs will give the town points towards reaching the gold standard.
“Having obtained and placed AEDs in public areas, and training individuals in CPR and AED use, we will continue to be a Heart Safe community,” he said.
Conley said it is important for people to be able to respond to acute, sudden life-threatening events. He said having AEDs in town will help.
“The chances of survival are increased tenfold,” Conley said. “It really is the right thing to do in our society.”