Houghton College Grant for Lifesaving Defibrillators

Houghton College receives grant for Lifesaving Semi-Automated External Defibrillators


The Kerr-Pegula Athletic Complex and the Nielsen Physical Education Center at Houghton College are now equipped with new semi-automated external defibrillators thanks to an underwriting grant from Univera Healthcare. With the devices, known as AEDs, Houghton’s athletic facilities are better equipped to respond to a sudden cardiac arrest.

“Having AEDs on site in the Kerr-Pegula Complex and the Nielsen Center will allow our staff to take immediate action in a cardiac crisis while they wait for first responders to arrive,” said H. “Skip” Lord, Houghton College executive director of athletics. “All who participate in our college community will benefit from Univera Healthcare’s generosity.”

Minutes can save lives. 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.

Photo - Dr. Richard Vienne color 12.2014

“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 Dr. Richard Vienne, Univera Healthcare vice president and chief medical officer, and a Houghton graduate Class of ’84.

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.

The unit delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart that can stop an irregular rhythm and allow a normal rhythm to resume. It 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.

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 160 AEDs into service across upstate New York, including at Boy Scout and Girl Scout camps serving the eight counties of Western New York, and with 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 Vienne.

Univera Healthcare is a nonprofit health plan that is part of a family of companies financing and delivering health services for more than 1.5 million upstate New Yorkers. Based in Buffalo, the health plan serves members across the eight counties that comprise Western New York.
Online at UniveraHealthcare.com.

Houghton College is a Christian College of Liberal Arts & Sciences located in Houghton, New York, in Allegany County (about an hour south-east of Buffalo).  Online at houghton.edu.