Buckhannon leaders look at program

BUCKHANNON — Buckhannon may potentially become a HeartSafe Community, after Buckhannon Interim Fire Chief JB Kimble brought attention to the program.

Designed to promote survival from sudden out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, the program is a general concept that is focused upon strengthening the “chain of survival.” According to the program’s website, a region establishes a set of minimum criteria its communities must meet in order to achieve HeartSafe status.

“HeartSafe Communities is basically an organization that comes in, and there’s standardization about how heart-safe your community is,” explained Kimble to Buckhannon City Council during a recent meeting. “Well, we’re at the point now where we don’t really know where we’re at.”

He noted he is not aware of any statistics within the county concerning cardiac arrests.

“What is our survival rate in our city and our county (and) on our college campus?” Kimble asked. “How many sudden cardiac arrests do we have and how do we handle them?”

With the program, Kimble said he’d like to strategically place automated-external defibrillators throughout the city, such as at Riverwalk and Jawbone Park.

“AEDs are very important. … We have a lot of stuff going on in downtown Buckhannon, and the closest AED is at the firehouse,” Kimble continued during the discussion. “And that’s not always the best strategic place to have it.”

Mayor David McCauley asked Kimble if there was a cost to join the program.

“Where the cost comes involved, from what I understand, is when you do this you set up your program, they look at your responses, but you have to provide a training to the local community,” Kimble explained.

To accommodate the training sessions, Kimble said the fire department has about seven instructors and a training facility.

“We’re the city fire department, but we’re a community fire department — and we’ll do whatever we need to do wherever we need to go,” he said.

Kimble said the cost of an AED is almost $1,000.

He commented no other city in West Virginia is participating in the program.

Council member CJ Rylands said, “I like the idea that it differentiates us once again with the first community in West Virginia for health, wellness.”

“We’re going to consider this information on this evening, but when you come back on March 1, we’ll have it on the agenda to take action and join the association,” McCauley said.