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Leadership Manhattan Beach Aims to Provide AEDs

Mar 07, 2019 11:52AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Leadership Manhattan Beach Class of 2019 logo design by Alex Chase

Every moment counts in an emergency... and the Leadership Manhattan Beach Class of 2019 wants to make sure that the Manhattan Beach Police Department has the tools to respond.

That's why this year's Leadership Manhattan Beach class project aims to bring Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) to Manhattan Beach police vehicles, as well as to a variety of locations around town.

The community is invited to join in a fundraiser for the project, to be held at Tin Roof Bistro from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Monday, March 11. Tickets ($35 in advance or $45 at the door) include food, drinks, a silent auction, guest speakers, demonstrations, and more.

An AED is a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use portable medical device that can analyze the heart's rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock (defibrillation) to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm, according to the American Red Cross. Currently, the only way to restore a regular heart rhythm during cardiac arrest is to use an AED.

Manhattan Beach Police Sergeant Steve Kitsios, a member of the Leadership Manhattan Beach Class of 2019, brought the AED idea to the group. He said he was inspired after seeing an AED save the life of a colleague who had collapsed while running a race. 

Kitsios said that it would be highly beneficial for Manhattan Beach Police vehicles to be equipped with AEDs, given that police are often the first to arrive to the scene of an emergency. 

"Every time the fire department gets a dispatch, police are also notified," said Kitsios. "We also  respond to medical calls such as people fainting, choking, or diabetic episodes; and we respond to render first aid as well."

In researching the project, Kitsios learned that the cities of Hawthorne and Torrance have AEDs in all police cars, and Redondo Beach has them in a few.  "Other police departments do have them and I think it’s time that Manhattan Beach did as well," he said. 

An AED is about the size of an "'old school' lunchbox," noted Kitsios. While police officers are trained in how to use them, "any citizen can grab one off the wall and use it." The AED comes with step-by-step directions and it guides the user through CPR as well (giving the instructions "go faster" or "go slower" as necessary).

Project lead Kristen Mahlmann noted that the group also hopes to expand the effort beyond police cars. "Our goal would be to partner with some local businesses to strategically place AEDs around the community as well, focusing primarily on location, business hours and other needs," she said. "All in, we are hoping to fundraise to procure at least 30 AEDs for the police department and local businesses."

The AEDs that the group is considering would cost about $1,600 per unit at a group rate.

Mahlmann added that the education portion of the project would continue beyond the fundraising event. "We plan to attend the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market in March and April to help continue to raise awareness about the AEDs and their importance to the community. We will also share information on how the community can attend CERT training to become CPR and AED certified," she said. 

Local attorney DeAnn Chase is participating in this year's Leadership Manhattan Beach along with her daughter Alex. "I have been an active member of our community for over a decade, and yet have learned so much more about our city through the Leadership Manhattan Beach program," said Chase. "I am looking forward to seeing the fruits of our efforts in equipping our police vehicles and local businesses with life-saving AEDs."

Leadership Manhattan Beach is a 9-month program that runs from September through to May of the following year. Training sessions and seminars cover various facets of leadership and Manhattan Beach city operations. Techniques learned in the program are put to immediate use to connect with city officials, lead teams, and manage the final class project.

Previous Leadership Manhattan Beach projects have included refurbishing the Manhattan Beach Santa Float and creating bike fix-it stations.

To donate to this year's project, click here.

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