Members of the Heart Walk team visit the Sanibel Fire House. A demonstration of AEDs will be part of this year's Heart Walk on Jan. 28. Heart Walk photo
Members of the Heart Walk team visit the Sanibel Fire House. A demonstration of AEDs will be part of this year's Heart Walk on Jan. 28. Heart Walk photo

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one of a series leading up to the 2018 Sanibel/Captiva Heart Walk on Sunday, Jan. 28, at the Sanibel Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way. Island residents are urged to sign up for the walk and join a team at www.sanibelcaptivaheartwalk.org. For further information, including sponsorship opportunities, contact Kelly Glewa at (239) 340-2407 or Sandy Teger (973) 420-3233. The social media hash tag for the walk is #sancapheartwalk.

We don’t hear much about the people of the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District, but whenever we have an emergency, we are fortunate to have them serving us. Every year, some members of the Sanibel/Captiva Heart Walk team visit the Palm Ridge Road Fire/Rescue location for a picture with their personnel and they come to the Heart Walk, in case their help is needed. Last year Tim Barrett, training officer for Sanibel Fire and Rescue, and his colleagues were present to demonstrate and bring awareness to the life-saving importance of CPR.

The members of the Fire/Rescue Squad are trained in CPR but they are not likely to be around when someone suddenly suffers a cardiac arrest, a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating.

The good news is that there are new portable automatic electronic defibrillators (AEDs) and they are increasingly installed at locations where a number of people gather — like hotels and recreation facilities.

An AED checks a person’s heart rhythm. It can recognize a rhythm that requires shock, and if needed, send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. The AED uses voice and other prompts, to tell the rescuer the steps to take.

According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, when a person suffers a sudden cardiac arrest, their chance of survival decreases by 7 percent to 10 percent for each minute that passes without defibrillation. AEDs make it possible for more people to respond to a medical emergency where defibrillation is required.

Next time you are at a place on Sanibel where people gather, take a look around or ask if they have an AED. Here are a few of the categories and locations that had AED’s last time we checked.

  • Schools: Sanibel school; Sanibel Sea School

  • Churches: St. Isabel’s Catholic Church, St. Michaels & All Angels Episcopal Church, Sanibel Community Church, Sanibel Congregational Church

  • Condo complexes: Mariner Point, Ocean’s Reach, Sandy Bend Resort, Sundial Beach Resort and Spa, Gulf Beach Condominium

  • Recreation/fitness establishments: Beachview Golf Club, The Sanctuary Golf Club, Sanibel Marina, Sanibel City Recreation Center, Center for Life, J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

  • City/Civic locations: Sanibel Public Library, BIG ARTS; Sanibel Public Works, Sanibel Police Department, Sanibel Fire Department, Donax Wastewater Facility

  • Miscellaneous: The Sanibel/Captiva Trust Company, Island Management Group

If you are involved with an organization or location where numerous people gather, you might think about whether that organization should procure and get trained in the use of an AED. Someone’s life might be saved by it.

The Heart Walk invites all to join the Sanibel/Captiva Heart Walk team and some members of the Fire and Rescue Squad for the 2018 walk. It takes place on Sunday, Jan. 28. Festivities for the walk begin at 2 p.m. and the non-competitive, family-friendly walk starts at 3 p.m. at Sanibel Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way. Before the walk, Barrett will demonstrate how easy AEDs are to use and tell you why the fears some people have about using them are baseless. The Heart Walk is within a safe, closed loop, and walkers may do as many as laps as they wish to complete a 3.2-mile 5K or optional one-mile course. To join a team or donate visit www.SanibelCaptivaHeartWalk.org.

The Heart Walk thanks the Sanibel/Captiva Trust Company and Il Cielo, who are once again the walk’s Platinum sponsors. If you are interested in becoming one of our sponsors or for further information regarding the walk, contact Lee Heart Walk Director Kelly Glewa at (239) 340-2407 or Sandy Teger (973) 420-3233.