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ALL 11 FIRE DEPARTMENTS GETTING DEFIBRILLATORS

All 11 volunteer fire departments in Cheektowaga should soon be equipped with life-saving heart defibrillators, officials say.

A $22,000 funding package to acquire several $3,000 automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, for Cheektowaga medical emergency crews was announced by State Sen. William T. Stachowski, D-Buffalo, and Cheektowaga Supervisor Dennis H. Gabryszak.

Stachowski said he also hopes to get funding to equip fire companies in West Seneca and Elma with the devices.

Cheektowaga will put up $11,000, and the state will match it, Stachowski said.

AEDs administer a controlled electrical shock to halt cardiac arrhythmia. Survival chances for people stricken with sudden cardiac arrest increase dramatically if an AED is used on them in less than six to eight minutes, national studies show.

A Buffalo News series last spring noted that among Cheektowaga's 11 volunteer fire departments, only two -- South Line and Rescue -- had the devices, while the others relied upon Rural/Metro Ambulance medical services, a private company.

Initial funds will provide AEDs for the town's Doyle No. 1 and Doyle No. 2, Bellevue, Hi-View and Sloan companies, Stachowski said. Officers from those companies as well as Pine Hill, Forks, Cleveland Hill and U-Crest attended a ceremony Friday in Bellevue Fire Hall at which an AED was demonstrated. Also on hand was Michael Mazurowski, regional director of Western Regional Emergency Medical Systems.

Stachowski said he also eventually wants to see AEDs in all chiefs' vehicles, since "it is common practice for the chief to be one of the first responders to any emergency and time is of the essence when a heart attack strikes.

"Clearly, AEDs and volunteer firefighters save lives. Unfortunately, many companies must first use their dollars to replace fire apparatus and upgrade firefighting and rescue equipment in order to meet mandates," Stachowski said.

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