‘Every minute counts’


SA pushes for AEDs in every public building on campus

It’s hard to put a price tag on life, but when an automated external defibrillator is needed to save somebody’s life, that price is $1,200.

Students’ Association passed a resolution two weeks ago, pushing to have AED in every public building on campus. They want to see more of these life-saving devices more accessible to students for when they are needed.

There are currently 15 registered AEDs on the South Dakota State University campus.

Accounting for the 85 buildings on campus, this total expenditure would cost the university around $123,000 when all is said and done, according to Assistant Vice President of Safety and Security Donald Challis. This total includes the AEDs themselves, installation fees and maintenance fees. With this sum price in mind, school officials must draw a line between affordability and keeping the student body safe.

“It’s a risk [not to have them] … I think the resolution represents the emphasis the student government puts on this, it’s raising awareness of the need,” Challis said. “We’re looking at intermediate steps through funding by student government or UPD funds to see if [AEDs] could be in UPD vehicles.”

University Police Department AEDs would add to the total cost on top of the 85 campus buildings, but this is a possible place SA is looking to start at  because they would be mobile units. This would add five AEDs to the cost for their five vehicles, according to Heaton.

he UPD funds would have every UPD vehicle driving equipped with an AED on board so the responding officer to an incident would not have to wait any longer to use one, if needed.

“My idea is to get the affordable ones to be able to transport out in [UPD] vehicles when they’re out on the road … [however], that doesn’t solve the problem completely because the officers can’t always be everywhere,” Chief of Safety and Security UPD Timothy Heaton said. “I’m a supporter, it’s something you don’t need often but when you need it I would rather have it than not have it.”

One recent UPD occurrence, a man called the campus blue light due to a cardiac emergency had an officer arrive at the scene before the ambulance.

“We have to wonder how much easier it would have been if the officer would have had an AED on him,” Heaton said. “I think anything that can save a life is worth the cost, [although] it isn’t something that’s an everyday occurrence.”

Because officers can’t respond right away, AEDs today are designed so that anyone can use them on an individual in need. Once powered on, the device has an automated voice command that instructs the operator on exactly what to do.

SA Sen. Nathan Smith, a pharmacy major, brought this resolution idea to the table after a number of suggestions and other outside proposals, according to SA President Caleb Finck, and they hope it being passed will allow SA to work with other committees to move this process along.

“I think that it will get enacted in the near future … until someone said something I never took the initiative to look around and see where the AEDs on campus are,” Finck said. “We can bring attention to a pretty serious cause. We want them to start thinking about getting a plan so in the future we can have at least one in each building.”

One voice that helped push for this resolution came from the College of Nursing, which had the healthcare knowledge to know the impacts of an AED and why a shortage of them can be dangerous.

“It’s been a long time coming, I’m glad they’re agreeing with us that we need more AEDs on campus … we wanted one [AED] available for our college, [and] being health-oriented we should be paving the way for other colleges,” Ela Nielsen said, the president of Nursing Student Association and a junior nursing major. “As a public university there should be [an AED] in every building, if not on every floor. The more accessible you have one, the more likely you are to save their life … every minute counts.”

The voice of a paramedic who deals with AEDs regularly echoed Nielsen’s sentiments on the devices, but also understands that they are not cheap pieces of equipment.

“Time is of the essence, for every 60 seconds that goes by, the person loses 10 percent of their chance to survive, so that makes it a little more realistic and if you have this you wouldn’t have to wait on someone to come across campus to get [an AED],” paramedic and Brookings Health System ambulance director Gordon Dekkenga said. “It’s a lot of buildings, but it’s a good progressive plan. I have been in situations where there wasn’t an AED so the people on the scene did have to wait, and that happens … $1,200 is quite a reasonable price if it does its job once.”

Dekkenga uses an AED two to four times each month to help save patients’ lives. While the current AEDs on campus are not used frequently, Dekkenga said the price of one is “quite reasonable if it does its job once.”

While it will take a large amount of funding to get $123,000 worth of AEDs for SDSU, passionate students for this resolution, such as Nielsen, would not think twice about investing in life-saving tools. In the meantime, however, funding is being looked into and current AED awareness is increasing.

“I do think it’s worth the cost – it’s not something that’s going to happen over night … if they save one life, that’s priceless,” Nielsen said. “They [the school] should take that responsibility to protect their students … they should also be educating their students where these resources are for them.”

SA is fully behind seeing this resolution enacted, hopefully, in the next two to three years, Finck said. They want to get a funding plan set in action to get traction on implementing more AEDs. 

“It depends on how serious the university gets on doing it … I don’t know if they can get it all done in one year, but maybe a two or three-year role in where we spend an amount of dollars to get these in here,” Finck said.

SA believes AED location awareness and UPD officers carrying them are the best places to start a phase-in of this resolution.

While there is not currently a payment plan setup to enact this resolution, Finck is confident that one will be in the near future. This payment plan will cover initial costs of the AEDs, installation fees and annual maintenance fees.