By Marcy Stamper

Betty Wagoner practices CPR on a demonstration dummy under the watchful eye of  Kurt Oakley, an advanced emergency technician for Aero Methow Rescue Service, during a training session at the Methow Valley Senior Center.Photo by Marcy Stamper

Betty Wagoner practices CPR on a demonstration dummy under the watchful eye of Kurt Oakley, an advanced emergency technician for Aero Methow Rescue Service, during a training session at the Methow Valley Senior Center.Photo by Marcy Stamper

The Methow Valley Senior Center has joined three dozen other locations in the Methow Valley, from the Freestone Inn to the Carlton Store, that have an automated external defibrillator (AED) on hand for cardiac emergencies.

The board of the  Senior Center Association recently purchased the defibrillator after learning how simple it is to use and how beneficial it could be. “The turning point was the Veteran’s Day luncheon, when we had 120 people here. We realized that if something happened, it would be quite chaotic,” said Melodie Fleming, Senior Center president.

After a presentation by Theresa Remsberg, an injury prevention community educator with Aero Methow Rescue Service, the Senior Center board members were confident that people could be trained to use the device, which gives spoken instructions for every step.

Thirteen board members and volunteers took a three-hour class in using the AED and in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) last week, with the cost of the training subsidized by Aero Methow.

They learned the steps to take to increase someone’s chance of survival while waiting for emergency medical help to arrive. Remsberg stressed the importance of being prepared to intervene immediately, since survivability increases 10 percent with each minute saved.

NEWS-AEDTraining_1332-p“The passage of time between an incident and the arrival of Aero Methow or trained professional help — every second lost lessens the chance of survival dramatically. That’s another reason we did it—we won’t be wasting time,” said Fleming.

An AED evaluates the heart rhythm to determine if a defibrillator is needed when someone is unresponsive. If it recognizes an abnormal heart rhythm, it provides a shock to put the heart back into its normal rhythm, said Kurt Oakley, an advanced emergency medical technician and certified instructor with Aero Methow. “All AEDs talk to you—they’re fairly foolproof,” said Remsberg.

“Everyone’s ready for something we hope we never have to do,” said Fleming.

Aero Methow teaches CPR and first aid, generally once a month, to anyone who is interested. The next session is Feb. 4 and 6. Call 997-4013.