Darien unexpected: Being prepared for the worst

One of the most unexpected events to occur in our lives is a heart attack, especially during winter when you have people who lead sedentary lives taking up shovels to deal with snow and then collapsing from the stress the unaccustomed work puts on their hearts.

So why am I telling you this? Just to get your attention and tell you about an exciting two day training seminar in the Stamford office of the United Way of Western Connecticut.

The United Way of Western Connecticut received a very generous grant from the Herbert and Nell Singer Foundation and used the money to purchase 59 automated external defibrillators, which were then distributed to 15 area non-profit agencies along with training provided by Stamford Emergency Medical Services. On a more local basis, Person-to-Person here in Darien was one of the recipients who received one of these life-saving machines, and now has it on their premises next to St. Luke’s church on the Post Road.

The defibrillator is a portable apparatus that attaches to the victim’s chest to send shocks of electricity that restart the heart and are crucial to saving lives when every minute counts. The defibrillators were purchased from New Milford-based Heart Mart Technology and can be used to save the lives of infants and children as well as adults, and is part of a continued effort on the part of the United Way of Western Connecticut to promote a heart healthy community.

It is estimated that 20% of all police cars carry these defibrillators to improve life saving response time. Being curious, I called the Darien Police department and was told that every Darien police car carries one.

If you ever face the unexpected — a friend, family member, neighbor, stranger in cardiac distress, it is good to know that you can call our local police department and have them assist while waiting for ambulatory help. If defibrillated within the first minute of collapse, the victim’s chances for survival are close to 90%. For every minute that defibrillation is delayed, survival decreases by 7 to 10%. How reassuring to know that our police force is among the 20% outfitted with this equipment, ready to help, and only a 911 call away.

If you ever wondered where your donations to United Way go — this is just one example of where these hard-working stewards put your dollars to work!

Have a healthy and safe New Year!

Nanci Natale is a lifelong Darien resident, photographer, poet, accomplished gardener, cook and artist. Her poetry has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Bellowing Ark and others publications.

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