Girls Scouts of WNY Acquires Lifesaving Devices

Univera Healthcare
lifesaving devices


Two camps operated by Girl Scouts of Western New York are now equipped with new semi-automated external defibrillators, thanks to an underwriting grant from Univera Healthcare. With the devices, known as AEDs, the camps are better equipped to respond to a sudden cardiac arrest. Each year thousands of girls and adults enjoy Girl Scout Camp Seven Hills in Holland, NY, and Camp Timbercrest in Randolph, NY.

An AED is the size of a child’s lunchbox, and is used in cases of life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias where the heart is electrically active, but in a dysfunctional pattern that doesn’t allow it to pump and circulate blood. This abrupt loss of function is known as cardiac arrest and, if not treated within minutes, quickly leads to death.

An AED delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart that can stop an irregular rhythm and allow a normal rhythm to resume. The device also coaches the user in the proper administration of CPR, including providing a metronome beat to help the user count and time CPR chest compressions. Immediate use of an AED, in conjunction with CPR, offers a chance at survival.

“In a cardiac emergency, it’s important to have an AED within reach since the likelihood of resuscitation decreases by about 10 percent with every minute that passes,” said Art Wingerter, Univera Healthcare president. “These camps are in rural areas where it might take first responders several minutes to arrive on scene.”

The current national survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest is less than 5 percent. The American Heart Association estimates that 50,000 lives would be spared every year if AEDs were readily available to cardiac arrest victims.

“Outdoor programing is a part of the foundation of Girl Scouting,” said Cindy L. Odom, CEO of Girl Scouts of Western New York. “Girls develop their leadership skills and have fun enjoying the beauty of nature. With Univera Healthcare’s generous grant to fund the purchase of these AEDs, our camps now offer added protection to the people who come to camp, volunteer, and visit.”

The AEDs underwritten by Univera Healthcare are manufactured by Philips. Each is semi-automated and issues voice commands that instruct the user on how and where to connect sensor pads to the patient. The pads allow the AED to examine the electrical output from the heart and determine if the patient is in a shockable rhythm (either ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia). If the device determines a shock is warranted, it will provide instruction to the user on how to deliver the electrical charge. If the sensors don’t detect a shockable rhythm, the device will not allow a shock to be administered.

Note: For patients who present a “flat line” (the absence of any cardiac electrical activity), the AED will state that no shock is advised. For those patients, the only chance for survival is to try to establish a shockable rhythm through CPR, which is why it is imperative that CPR is carried out immediately, even prior to the arrival of an AED or medical professionals.Underwriting grants from Univera Healthcare and its parent health plan have placed more than 150 AEDs into service across upstate New York, including at the Albright Knox Art Gallery, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House Complex, Old Fort Niagara and the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park.

Univera Healthcare also has donated more than three dozen AEDs to area law enforcement agencies, including the Erie, Wyoming and Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Departments. “In rural parts of our service area, a Sheriff is often the first responder to a medical emergency.” said Wingerter.