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Partnership helps dispatchers map AEDs in Stearns County

Updated: February 28, 2020 06:21 PM

A partnership in Stearns County is bringing more awareness to heart health.

February is American Heart Month, and now there's a new dispatch mapping tool to locate where automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are throughout the county.

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"I had a heart attack 15 years ago," said Joel Vogel, with Advocates for Health.

Vogel has six stents in his heart and knows all too well how important timing is during these medical emergencies.

"For every minute you're out, your chance of survival is 10% less," Vogel said.

Now, he's part of the team at Advocates for Health working to make sure people have access to AEDs. But first, they needed to find out where they're located across Stearns County.

"No one had taken and connected all the dots," Vogel said.

They found more than 500 of them, including ones in public places called "Save Stations."

"Twenty percent of them or more had bad batteries or bad pads so we brought them all up to speed," Vogel said.

That's when Advocates for Health started working with the Stearns County Sheriff's Office.

"I thought this was a good idea if we can give dispatchers a tool to be able to use in certain situations," said Stearns County Sheriff Steve Soyka.

Soyka said thanks to new technology, their dispatchers can now pinpoint where every AED is in the county.

"People walk by them a lot like fire extinguishers, you don't pay attention to them until you need them," Soyka said.

So, if there's an emergency anywhere in Stearns County, dispatch will let you know if there is an AED nearby. That way you can start first aid immediately before first responders arrive.

"We try to make everything as easy and intuitive to use," said Karl Larsen, product manager at GeoComm.

GeoComm is the St. Cloud company behind the technology that specializes in 9-1-1 and public safety mapping.

"It is our mission to save lives and protect property so when we see evidence of that, it really helps us to spur on to keep doing what we're doing," Larsen said.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's an alarming reality, but also a reminder.

"Do you know where the closest AED is to your house?" Vogel asked.

It's a question that most of us might not know the answer to, but Vogel hopes this simple mapping tool can make a difference when it matters most.

To learn more about Advocates for Health and GeoComm, click here.

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Brett Hoffland

Copyright 2020 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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