NEW PHILADELPHIA -- Over the past several months, the Eastern Ohio AED Initiative in partnership with the Muskingum Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross has been steadfast in working towards their goal of raising funds to purchase and distribute 500 AEDs throughout Tuscarawas, Carroll and Harrison counties over the next five years. Initiative founder, Jeff Cameron, MD, said the AEDs would be for placement in law enforcement and fire department vehicles and at non-profit community buildings such as churches, senior centers and libraries.

The initiative, only existing for a short time thus far, is about to leave a lasting mark on several area communities by providing 34 organizations with over 60 Zoll AED Plus defibrillators. The Initiatives medical committee chose the ZOLL AED Plus because it guides the rescuer through the entire process and provides the immediate feedback on their CPR performance, a very important part of the rescue. "The generous support from many local businesses, organizations, foundations and individuals has enabled the Initiative get one step closer to reaching our goal of saving a heart, saving a life. For their support we are extremely grateful."

As part of the distribution of the AED's the Red Cross will be providing CPR and AED trainings.

The first set of AED awardees were announced at the initiatives first fund-raiser, A Night in New Orleans, at the Union Country Club.

"The event as a great success and we would not have been able to do it with out the overwhelming support given by so many people in the area, especially our host sponsor Smith Ambulance," said Cameron.

AED awardees for Tuscarawas County: Strasburg Police Department, Tuscarawas County Courthouse, YMCA (Twin City Satellite), Tuscarawas County Sheriff (8 units), Tuscarawas County Public Library, Dover City Pool, Newcomerstown Police Department, State Highway Patrol (8 units), Tuscarawas Senior Center and Indian Hills Christian School.

The following organizations and businesses have purchased an AED through the initiative. Others can also purchase AEDs through the initiative at a discounted price.

First Christian Church, New Philadelphia

Alpine Bible Church, Sugarcreek

Carroll HealthCare, Carrollton

Adventure Harley Davidson, New Philadelphia

Boulevard Medical Building, Dover

Howden Buffalo, New Philadelphia

TSO Pilots Association, Carrollton

First Baptist Church, New Philadelphia

Super Fitness, New Philadelphia

Strasburg Police Department (from Strasburg Lions), Strasburg

Dover City Pool, Dover

Kent State University, New Philadelphia

Tuscarawas Senior Center (from New Philadelphia Kiwanis), New Philadelphia

"The Initiative is so excited to have been able to get such a large number of AEDs in to the hands of our community so quickly. We would like to see these be as common as fire extinguishers are in buildings today," said Red Cross Executive Director Chad Conrad.

Within the tri-county area there are an estimated 236 sudden cardiac arrests annually. The national survival rate is 5 percent. By making sure that AEDs are strategically placed in non-profit buildings, such as churches, senior centers and libraries, and in law enforcement vehicles, it is the initiative's goal to increase the survival rate to 25 percent, or save the lives of 47 more people.

Applications and more information concerning the Initiative are available by contacting (330) 343-8633, visiting www.mlcredcross.org or e-mailing at info@mlcredcross.org.