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AZ Arts Venues to Get Lifesaving Machines

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August 24, 2009

PHOENIX - The arts in Arizona may soon be ready to save hearts ... and lives. The Arizona Commission on the Arts will start taking applications next week for 30 automatic external defibrillators (AEDs), to be placed in nonprofit arts and cultural facilities. Commission director Robert Booker says some of the heart-starting machines will go in locations where there's physical exertion.

"What we're looking at is places where there might be physical stress. So we're looking at a dance studio, for instance, or a rehearsal hall might be a good place, as well as the lobbies of performing arts or visual arts organizations."

The Phoenix-area machines are the result of a grant from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. Booker is seeking funding to expand the program to arts organizations statewide.

Booker says the defibrillators come with a requirement for employee training and a commitment to maintain the equipment.

"Training is equally as important for the staff members, the folks at the facility, as is the equipment itself. So as we distribute these, we are requiring intensive training of their teams as well, and a commitment to maintain and continue training for years to come."

If there's nobody around who's been trained, Booker says, help is still available to those with hearts in crisis. The defibrillators come with instructions and can be operated by almost anyone.

"It is very user-friendly. It is very simple. It coaches you through the whole process. And if through this process we can save a life or two, I think it will be all worth it."

The application deadline is October 15th.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ