Missing defibrillators cause turmoil

Photo courtesy of Olaf Gradin, Creative Commons

Raul Herrera/Staff Writer

Three university automatic external defibrillators have disappeared in the past month. The devices were originally purchased by the University to be accessible in the case there is a heart attack or another related emergency.

A defibrillator was reported missing to FIU Police Department on Sept. 16 by the Department of Environmental Health and Safety in Owa Ehan. The third was reported missing on Oct. 1 in the MARC Building.

Investigation is ongoing for one of the incidents, which University Safety Officer and Assistant Director of the University Department of Health and Safety, Wilfredo Alvarez, said occurred in the Viertes House building.

Alvarez told Student Media that none of the individuals who reported the incidents had seen suspicious activity prior to the disappearances, but that the department would be reviewing camera footage for possible leads.

The defibrillators are part of an FIU initiative, known as Policy Number 1150.004, that aims to make them readily available on campus should an emergency occur.

Alvarez, who is also a PantherERS Squad facilitator, said that the University has committed itself to “putting one AED in every single one of our occupied buildings.”

According to police reports, the Physio Life-Pak 1000 defibrillator missing from Owa Ehan cost the university about $2,395. The one in the MARC building, a Life-Pak 1000 AED, cost $2,399.

While commenting on the occurrences, Alvarez noted their uniqueness.

“This was the first time since the inception of the AED program, which is almost three years old, that we lost any of the devices,” he said.

He added that he was still uncertain of whether or not the devices were stolen, as there was a lack of evidence to suggest that. However, FIUPD has decided to treat the incident in Owa Ehan as larceny/grand theft, and the incident in MARC as “theft from structure with public access.”

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, using AEDs “within 3-4 minutes can lead to a 60 percent survival rate” in heart attack victims.

In light of these incidents, Alvarez said the department is looking to place an alarm on the devices to improve security.

“We’re purchasing some high piercing alarms that will be attached to the devices,” Alvarez said. “We’re also looking at marking them in very specific ways. There’s a thing called SmartWater that illuminates under ultraviolet [light].”

The SmartWater, he said, may assist in tracking an AED back to the university should it be found.

Ultimately, Alvarez believes that student awareness can go a long way.

“We should all take some responsibility for keeping an eye on them in order to ensure that they’re there, in case of an emergency,” he said.


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