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Heart Start: Shopping center hopes to buy auto defibrillator

Grace Karpa
Eileen JoyceFitness trainer Scott McIntosh demonstrates how to use a defibrillator at Courthouse Athletic Club in Grass Valley Wednesday. McIntosh wants to raise money to buy one for Pine Creek Shopping Center.
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Pine Creek Shopping Center may be at the forefront of a growing trend – but it’s not orange blouses or rustic furniture.

Businesses in the Freeman Lane shopping center, anchored by Raley’s Superstore, plan to hold a drawing to raise money to buy a medical device designed to restart stopped hearts.

Scott McIntosh, a fitness trainer at the Courthouse Athletic Club, a health club in the center, called the local Red Cross chapter for information about automatic external defibrillators, devices which attach to the chest then produce a shock that jump starts hearts.

“CPR just kind of keeps things moving until you can shock the heart,” McIntosh said.

But the 10 to 15 minutes it can typically take for an ambulance to arrive may mean the difference between life and death, said Susan King, health and safety director of the western Nevada County chapter of the Red Cross. The average age at which sudden cardiac arrest hits is 65.

Airplanes are required to carry automatic external defibrillators, and ambulances, hospitals, athletic coliseums and casinos in Las Vegas have had the devices on hand for several years, King said. But now that the devices are becoming more reasonably priced – about $3,000 to $3,500 – “they’re being positioned to use in all walks of life, like school systems,” King said.

“More and more businesses are going to realize that what may seem like a short time before the ambulance gets there makes all the difference between life and death,” King said. “Minutes count when the heart has stopped.”

Business owners and managers in Pine Creek Shopping Center met last week to discuss how to raise the funds to buy a device.

Marv Starkey, manager of Raley’s, said having a defibrillator nearby sounds like a good idea, but he’s waiting for the OK from the main office to participate in buying one.

Because Courthouse Athletic Club is open from 4:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and its employees are certified to perform CPR, the device would be housed there, McIntosh said.

The device, in a box smaller than a legal pad, emits verbal instructions to users.

“Apply pads to patient’s bare chest,” a voice from the box instructs. Press the next button and the user is told “Shock delivered. Do not touch the patient.”

“The process is designed so anybody can help anybody,” King said.

Sean Norman, a firefighter for California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in Butte County and a member of the gym, recalled McIntosh coming to find him a year and a half ago when a man there had a heart attack. While McIntosh is working to organize a fund-raiser, Norman is looking for a grant to pay for an external defibrillator.

“It really can make a difference in saving lives,” Norman said.

Tickets will be available for $5 at Courthouse Athletic Club starting Wednesday for a June 15 raffle to benefit the purchase of an automatic external defibrillator for Pine Creek Shopping Center. A list of the prizes from participating businesses is expected to be completed by Wednesday, trainer Scott McIntosh says.

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