Two AEDs Coming to Washingtonville
By Eugenia Moskowitz
Two new Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) will be coming to Washingtonville via the Kyle Honan Heart to Heart Foundation, its director Liz Honan recently said. AEDs — lightweight, battery-operated, portable devices that check the heart’s rhythm and send a shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm — are vital in preventing death from sudden cardiac arrest. Her foundation, which raises awareness of sudden cardiac arrest in teens and young adults, as well as provides AEDs to places where teens gather, such as schools and sports fields, secured an AED for the St. Mary’s CYO Basketball building last year.
Three years ago, Honan’s son Kyle passed away from sudden cardiac arrest due to undetected cardio-myopathy. In his memory, Honan started the foundation that bears his name, and is, aside from raising awareness, working on writing Kyle’s Law, which she would like to see passed in the near future. “What this would mean is that if you’re an asthmatic or on a sports team, an EKG must be part of your yearly physical exam. We live in the Hudson Valley, a high-allergy area, and the drug of choice for allergies is steroids, which causes cardio-myopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle. A yearly EKG would detect this, and thus prompt either different medical treatment, or an awareness about the cardiac effects of physical exertion. Having an AED on hand is of utmost importance should a condition go undetected and a child experiences what Kyle did.”
But AEDs are expensive. Unlike large hospital defibrillators which are the equivalent of driving a stick, lightweight AEDs are fully automatic, and can be used by anyone. “This does not mean that there is no training required,” Honan said. “Emergency scene management, starting the 911 chain of response, employing proper CPR technique, as well as the speedy securing of an AED and using it correctly, are all vital links in the chain of survival. While better than nothing, it’s not enough to just have one hanging on the wall. If too much vital time is lost without the brain receiving oxygenated blood via CPR, the patient’s outcome will be less positive. So the training of people who spend their day around these teens is also vital.”
The numbers are “staggering,” she said. “One in 300 kids has a heart condition that can result in sudden cardiac arrest. But paying directly for costly AEDs isn’t always possible.” It was at a recent Parent Heartwatch Conference, for families who have lost a child to sudden cardiac arrest, that Honan entered a 50/50 raffle for an AED. “This organization is the umbrella under which parents’ foundations to honor their children sit. We meet with doctors, parents, and others who have gone through the loss of a child and help each other with fundraising, grant writing, writing laws, and anything else that helps parents with their foundations. It’s a great organization that helps us avoid pitfalls and obstacles which others have already encountered. While at the conference, I entered a raffle, and won. Some of the people winning AEDs donated them back to be re-raffled. Our second AED was donated back three times before it was donated it to Kyle’s foundation. If not for Cheryl and Ray Lalloo of the Jessica Clinton Foundation, that second AED would not have come home with us.”
One of the AEDs will be going to the Washingtonville Little League, to be housed at Mays Field. WLL President Scott Davy said he was honored to be receiving it. It will likely be officially presented on Opening Day, with training for coaches available before the season starts.
The other AED will be landing at either Washingtonville Middle School or Washingtonville High School, “Wherever it is needed,” Honan said. “I want to see an AED on every floor in our middle and high schools, as well as on every sports field.” To that end, Honan said she will be working in conjunction with school superintendent Roy Reese to make any possible use of the AED run smoothly and efficiently. “The more people who know how to do proper CPR and use the AED, the quicker the save.”
For the future, Honan said, “It’s imperative that we take Kyle’s foundation to the next level and help even more people. Washingtonville isn’t tiny, but its also not huge. I want to see AEDs and proper training everywhere teens congregate, and everywhere teens and sports come together. I won’t rest until I do.”
CAPTION: The Kyle Honan Heart to Heart Foundation recently secured two more AEDs for the Washingtonville community at a conference, held here by two of foundation director Liz Honan’s sons. (Photo provided)