Williston became the seventh Vermont municipality designated as a “HeartSafe Community” on Tuesday for the work its emergency services agencies have done to bolster residents’ ability to respond to sudden cardiac arrests.
Dan Batsie, emergency services chief of the Vermont Department of Health, presented the town with a plaque signifying the designation during Tuesday’s meeting of the Williston Selectboard. It’s a designation that the Williston Fire Department has been working toward for several years.
Much of that work has included training residents in CPR and the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), and ensuring defibrillators are placed in town and school buildings as well as police cruisers and fire trucks.
Firefighters are also encouraging local businesses to have defibrillators on hand. “Fire and EMS (departments) can only do so much,” Batsie said, noting that about 85 percent of people who have sudden cardiac arrests in Vermont die. “What needs to happen is a community-based approach. To make an impact, it’s going to be a cooperation between the fire departments and civilians.”
The Hear tsafe Community designation is a program of the American Heart Association administered by the Vermont Department of Health. Communities receiving the designation are evaluated on the adoption of defibrillators and the availability of CPR classes.
The Williston Fire Department has been teaching CPR for eight years and has placed about 25 defibrillators around town, Lt. Keith Baker said. — Jason Starr