Chesterfield County Emergency Medical Services was one of 20 rural EMS and fire/rescue agencies to receive automated external defribillators in the state last month.
The AEDs were given to the agencies during a meeting of the South Carolina Office of Rural Health held Nov. 4. The agency distributed 56 defribillators.
Rural communities such as those in Chesterfield County depend on first responders, EMS agencies and 911 dispatchers to access to lifesaving health care services and equipment. Officials said the need is high and that rural South Carolinians are at greater risk compared to the rest of the United States for death and disability related to heart disease and stroke.
These 911 responders cover miles of interstate, primary and secondary roads and many dirt roads to reach their patients in rural areas.
The AEDs were placed with first response 911 agencies within South Carolina’s most rural counties; the awarded counties include Abbeville, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Colleton, Dillon, Edgefield, Greenwood, Hampton, Laurens, Lee, Marion, Newberry, Oconee, Orangeburg, Saluda, Union and Williamsburg.
The overall goal of the South Carolina Rural Access to Emergency Devices program is to save lives by strategically placing AEDs where they are needed most and training first responders and community members in order to increase survival rates for rural residents who suffer sudden cardiac arrests.
The total estimated population in the counties targeted by the rural access rogram is 3,416,000 dispersed over about 24,778 square miles.
The devices will be monitored and tracked throughout the next three years and data on lives saved will be reported to local, statewide and federal stakeholders.
The program plans to purchase and place at least 100 more AEDs in South Carolina’s rural counties within the next two years.
This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the grant title of Rural Access to Emergency Devices. The three-year grant is for $150,000 per year.
The S.C. Office of Rural Health is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring equitable access to quality healthcare for all rural South Carolinians.
The South Carolina Office of Rural Health provided information for this story.