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Hawkins citizens form Life Safety Committee, which meets Monday

BILL KILLEN • Sep 27, 2019 at 7:00 PM

ROGERSVILLE — A group of interested citizens representing county and municipal governments, industry and the emergency services community met at the Shepherd Center in Rogersville on Sept. 16 to discuss how to improve life safety issues in Hawkins County.

The major concern discussed was the need for additional first response to life-threatening medical emergencies within Hawkins County. Currently Hawkins County has no first response or cardiac response units to supplement Hawkins County Emergency Medical Services.

Hawkins County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staffs five ambulances 24/7 and is the soul provider of emergency medical services throughout the county’s 500 square miles. Unfortunately, there are communities where response time for an ambulance may exceed the desired response time. At times, available ambulances county-wide is down to one or two. In the event of an individual having a heart attack, trouble breathing or cardiac arrest in those remote areas of the county or when an ambulance has an extended response time, the outcome is undesirable. This meeting was preceded by meetings with the county mayor, sheriff and a representative from the fire and emergency services community. The county mayor and sheriff agreed that it would be beneficial to equip staffed law enforcement vehicles with an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Discussions centered on creating a permanent committee to conduct a campaign to equip all staffed law enforcement vehicles and every fire and rescue station in Hawkins County with an AED, a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation (VF) and pulseless ventricular tachycardia and is able to treat them through defibrillation, the application of electricity which stops the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to re-establish an effective rhythm. Early defibrillation has been proven with multiple studies to drastically increase the survivability of sudden cardiac arrest. With simple audio and visual commands, AEDs are designed to be simple to use for the layperson, and the use of AEDs is taught in many first aid, certified first responder and basic life support (BLS) level cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) classes. The portable version of the defibrillator was invented in the mid-1960s by Frank Pantridge in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Participants agreed to establish the committee under the auspices of the Of One Accord Ministries. The Committee for Improving Life Safety in Hawkins County convened a second meeting on Monday at the Holston Electric Co-Op Office in Church Hill. Committee assignments were made to establish a bank account, conduct an AED equipment survey, establish liaison with church associations, develop a list of business and manufacturers, and develop AED specification and cost data. Penny Derrick, of Church Hill, agreed to serve as secretary and Bill Killen, of Church Hill, agreed to chair the committee.

The next meeting is Monday at the Shepherd Center in Rogersville. Interested parties are invited to attend. For additional information or where to send donations, contact pennyderrick3216@gamil.com or Kirkbo65@charter.net.

Bill Killen is a retired NASA firefighter and former Church Hill alderman who is currently a member of the Hawkins County Commission’s EMS Exploratory Committee.

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