August 2014 Column - AEDs in county parks can be a lifesaver

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Through very unfortunate circumstances, I have become close with a local family whose mission I am honored to support.

Amy and Joe Skowronski are working tirelessly to educate Erie County and beyond about myocarditis, a heart condition that took the life of their son, Luke Gould. An energetic young man, Luke loved hockey and was honing his goalkeeping skills when he died without warning at the young age of 10. Lukey’s Legacy was established in his memory to educate the public about myocarditis and to encourage screening in children.

Through its research, the Skowronski family has learned a lot about myocarditis, a rare heart condition that has no detectable warning signs and is a leading cause of sudden death in young adults, infants and toddlers, and wants the community to be aware of this condition. Myocarditis can be triggered by a variety of causes that affect the heart muscle, including viral, bacterial or parasitic infections, which lead to damage of the tissues of the heart. You can learn about the risks and the foundation’s mission atwww.lukeyslegacy.org.

The family is also encouraging the installation of automated external defibrillators in locations where people gather, recognizing that AEDs can mean the difference between life and death for someone suffering from sudden cardiac arrest. I fully support this initiative and believe that Erie County should install AEDs in county parks and recreation areas. At the Legislature’s first session in September, I will be introducing a resolution that starts the process to ensure that going forward county parks will have AEDs in key locations to be available to residents to use in the case of an emergency. Advancements in medical science have allowed AEDs to be produced that are highly effective and can be used safely with an absolute minimal amount of training. I think it is critical that the county place AEDs in its parks and recreation areas. Sudden cardiac arrest can happen for many different reasons at any age, and AEDs have been used to save many lives. If an AED saves just one life at a county park, it will be worth the investment.

My resolution will request that the county’s Department of Health identify sensible locations for AEDs and to create a promotional campaign to make the public aware of the presence of AEDs at county facilities. The campaign would include free training programs offered by the county to educate the public on how to effectively use an AED.

In addition, I am proposing that Nov. 16, the date Luke passed away, be named Myocarditis Awareness Day in Erie County to support continued advocacy and to encourage screening to detect the condition.

Through these two initiatives we can help save someone in need. If you have any questions about my proposal or another county matter, please contact me at 858-8922 or joseph.lorigo@ erie.gov.