In February, the Jericho Athletic Association (JAA) Board of Directors took a proactive leading role and approved a proposal for the implementation and use of Automatic External Defibrillators upon Jericho playing fields. "We are putting a program into effect to provide for the safety and well-being of our children and our community," said JAA board member and program director Andrew Marshall, M.D.
The plan, which is also known as a Public Access Defibrillator Program or "PAD", is defined as the provision of automatic external defibrillators (AED's) to be available and utilized in public and/or private places where large numbers of people gather.
The program was proposed and spearheaded by Jericho Athletic Association board of directors in conjunction with the support and assistance of the Jericho Fire District.
The program will initially include a community wide awareness and fundraising campaign with the ultimate goal of the installation of 12 automatic external defibrillators with storage lockboxes at all JAA playing fields. The plan also calls for the training and certification of JAA coaches and members of the community in the use of the lifesaving apparatus.
It is estimated that more than 325,000 Americans of all ages die of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) every year. Sudden cardiac arrest is usually due to an irregular cardiac rhythm (arrhythmia), and unless a normal heart rhythm is restored, death will follow within a matter of minutes. "SCA" can strike anyone of any age, at any time, anywhere and without warning signs.
An automatic external defibrillator (AED) is a user friendly, medical device which delivers an electrical shock to the heart in order to restore a normal heart rhythm. This is a critical step in resuscitating a victim of "SCA". Quite simply, AEDs save lives.
Declaring this as one of the most important community projects in years, Andrew Marshall added "that the time has come for our organization and community to work together for the safety and well-being of our community's greatest asset, our children."
Inspiration and support for the program was provided by the Robbie Levine Foundation and it's directors Jill and Craig Levine. The Levines' son Robbie died of a cardiac event at nine years of age while running on a Merrick Little League field in 2005. Since that time the Levines' have lobbied and advocated for the widespread use of these lifesaving devices. "Defibrillators save lives. Children already wear helmets and other pads when playing sports to help prevent an injury. Now we need to raise awareness about the importance of having lifesaving safety equipment that can help prevent a tragedy. Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at anytime. If a defibrillator can save just one life and spare one family from having to live with the pain of losing a loved one, our efforts will be a success, we applaud and welcome the efforts of the JAA", said Jill Levine.
David Marmann, a Jericho Fire District Commissioner who is also a New York City Fire Department Special Operations Officer, is a staunch advocate for the effectiveness of the defibrillators seeing first hand how they can save lives. The Jericho Fire District is proud to pledge its support and resources to this incredibly worthwhile cause, and will be providing logistical support including the training which is critical to the success of the program, as well as providing maintenance and donation of the first AED for the cause. "We view this project as a natural extension of our department's mission and everyday efforts to protect the lives of the members of our community," he said.
Fellow JAA board member and co-sponsor of the plan Harold Wanderman adds, "We are seeking a true community-wide collaborative effort in this important endeavor and will be reaching out to a wide range of community groups including civic associations, PTAs, local elected officials, as well as business and individuals to assist us in our efforts to save lives and to protect our children."
The Birchwood Civic Association has already pledged its support and anticipates raising enough funds from its membership to purchase and donate a defibrillator to the program. "We hope that all of our community's representative groups unite together in support of this cause as the safety and well-being of our children should be our highest priority. We look forward to working with the JAA and Jericho Fire Department to see to the successful implementation of this important project," said Craig Snyder Birchwood Civic Association President.
Nicole Wanderman, the student coordinator for this important Jericho Endeavour stated, "if one life is saved, whether it be a student, a friend, a family member or a complete stranger, all our efforts to establish this AED Program will be our great success."
The goal of the plan's sponsors and supporters is to have the program up and running during the spring baseball season. The JAA would be one of the first local sports clubs in the Town of Oyster Bay utilizing the lifesaving devices.
The organizers are reaching out to the community for help with this program. "Our goal is to have an AED on every field where our children play and where our parents coach", said Marshall. In addition to making a voluntary contribution to this lifesaving cause, the group requests that the community enroll in the upcoming CPR/AED training courses at the Jericho Firehouse. It is hoped that all coaches and many members of the community within will become certified in CPR/AED management by the spring. The dates presently scheduled for training include April 1 - 8 p.m., April 13 11 a.m., April 7 - 8 p.m., and April 20 at 11 a.m.
All are invited and encouraged to make donations to the Jericho Athletic Association, PO Box 152, Jericho, NY 11753. Anyone with questions regarding this program is invited to contact either Andrew Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org (Jericho Athletic Association) or Dave Marmann at email@example.com (Jericho Fire District).