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Chelmsford's Zoll Medical Helping Schools Save Lives With Defibrillator Donations

Chelmsford's Zoll Medical helping schools save lives with defibrillator donations

A closeup of Zoll's AED Plus. Zoll is giving away one AED Plus a month to Massachusetts schools through June 2018. SUN / ALANA MELANSON

CHELMSFORD -- Starting in July 2018, all Massachusetts schools will be required to provide an automated external defibrillator on the premises and at school-sponsored athletic events.

Chelmsford-based defibrillator manufacturer Zoll Medical Corp. will help schools meet that requirement by donating one of its AED Plus defibrillators to a school each month until the law goes into effect.

"Sudden cardiac arrest is a very important and often unrecognized public health problem," said Elijah White, vice president of marketing for Zoll. "It affects more than half a million seemingly healthy people every year in the U.S., and most of them don't survive."

Someone can experience cardiac arrest anywhere at any time, and having a defibrillator nearby can be the difference between life and death, White said.

"Minutes matter when the heart is stopped," he said.

Cardiac arrest is often confused with a heart attack, but the two are very different conditions, White said. In a heart attack, blood flow to the heart is temporarily blocked, he said. In cardiac arrest, the heart just stops beating.

There are many reasons why someone could go into cardiac arrest, he said. In adults, it's often because of heart disease, while in children, it's often a congenital heart arrhythmia that may be undiagnosed.

More than half of the state's schools have at least one defibrillator, but that still leaves a lot that don't have any, White said.

"One is a start, but it's often not enough," he said.

As a company with deep Massachusetts roots and the vast majority of its headquarter's employees being local residents, White said it is Zoll's pleasure to support the new law.

Zoll's namesake and co-founder, Dr. Paul Zoll, was a Boston-based physician and pioneer in the development of the modern defibrillator and pacemaker.

Today, Zoll makes about a third of the world's defibrillators, all of which are manufactured at the company's Mill Road headquarters.

The devices undergo rigorous environmental and quality control testing to ensure they operate properly in the harshest of conditions, according to Senior Technical Support Manager Peter Dezak.

The AED Plus retails for about $1,500. Several local schools already have them, including in Lowell and Chelmsford.

While training is always helpful, the AED Plus is designed to be easy to use by anyone in case of an emergency, White said.

The machine has picture diagrams for each step. It also talks to the user, directing the first-aid responder to make chest compressions on the cardiac arrest victim and warning him or her to step back when a shock is administered.

Zoll recently partnered with the Chelmsford Fire Department to donate a defibrillator to the Chelmsford Girls Softball League in response to an earlier incident in which one was needed, White said.

Last week, the company also donated a second AED Plus to Tantasqua Regional High School in Sturbridge to raise awareness about cardiac arrest. A student there was saved two years ago thanks to one of Zoll's devices.

Only one entry per school is allowed per month, and must be made by a school employee on the Zoll website. Winners will be selected randomly at the end of each month and announced on Zoll's Facebook and Twitter pages.

The company is also willing to provide training to schools where staff are not familiar with how to use the devices, White said

As of Wednesday, the company had received more than 100 entries for the first drawing, which will take place Feb. 28.

School employees may submit applications for the monthly drawings at www.zoll.com/malaw.

Story Credit: http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadlines/ci_30805884/there-when-every-second-counts