Police and Kiwanis buy AEDs for two Little League fields

Two more Milford athletic fields are now equipped with defibrillators, thanks to the Milford Police Department and the Kiwanis Club.

The purchase of the lifesaving equipment was triggered by the recent death of a Connecticut girl playing Little League baseball in Killingly. Officials did not disclose the cause of the seventh-grade girl’s death, or explain if an automated external defibrillator (AED) might have made a difference, according to news reports. But the tragedy led local Milford National Little League officials to secure AEDs for their two city fields.

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. They are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest.

City Attorney Jon Berchem said Milford National Little League officials contacted him, asking about getting AEDs for the two fields. A short time later Berchem was talking to Police Union President Dennis Broderick. “I told Dennis about it, and he said, 'We’ll do it'.”

The police union and the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), under the leadership of Peter Parks, agreed to split the $1,200 cost for one AED. Since Broderick was out of town at training, he decided to stop at the facility where the fire department purchases its AEDs and bought one on the way home.

Berchem laughed because Broderick dropped off the AED only a few hours after Little League officials said they wanted them.

That AED will go to the Rob Clarkson Little League field behind the library. The Kiwanis Club is buying the other one, which will go to the Lou Gehrig field on Meadowside Road.

“We are very happy to help in keeping the children in our community safe,” said Joe Lee, Kiwanis Club president.

There are a number of ball fields and recreation facilities in the city. Some have AEDs and some do not, according to Fire Battalion Chief Dan Wassmer.

“Fields at the high schools do, and the major beaches do. They are manned by the trainers and lifeguards respectively,” Wassmer said.

Most city buildings that are open to the public have them too. They include City Hall, the Parsons Government Center, recreation centers, the high schools and middle schools, the library, health department, and fire and police headquarters.

“Many private properties [have them] as well,” Wassmer said. “The major grocery stores do — I know Whole Foods and Shoprite both do. Fitness centers often have them with trained staff. Many employers do as well, such as Westfield Mall, and the security there is trained and have actually saved people with them.”

There was one emergency on city property last year where an AED might have been used but was not available, Wassmer said.

“There was an unfortunate incident last year at a softball field where one was needed and not available and the person was not saved,” Wassmer said.

Another incident occurred at the Parsons Government Center, where an AED was available. “But first responders were so close that they actually arrived before the AED was used,” Wassmer said. “That was a stroke of good luck though.”

“AEDs are awesome lifesaving tools,” Wassmer added. “I've personally seen them used successfully to save lives.”

Wassmer said he can't emphasize enough the importance of CPR and AEDs in the survivability of sudden cardiac arrest.

“I encourage anyone who has the ability to learn at least hands only CPR and how to use an AED,” he said.