The Canandaigua Emergency Squad receives Rotary money for a new lifesaving device.

Odds are good you’ve walked into a school, gym or mall and seen a fire extinguisher on the wall. This tool that gives ordinary people the ability to rise to the occasion in the event of a fire was once a new idea.

And just as it has become normal, so has the presence of automated external defibrillators, or AEDs.

In the event of an apparent cardiac arrest, an AED can check a person’s heart rhythm, recognize if it requires a shock, and then relay that information to the person operating the device through voice prompts, lights and texts. They’re designed not only to save lives, but to be incredibly simple to use so a person with no medical training can operate one in an emergency until responders are on the scene.

While the device itself can prompt a person on how to use it, we encourage members of the community to become AED certified. In fact, we include AED certification in our community CPR classes for this very reason.

According to the American Heart Association: “Early CPR is an integral part of providing lifesaving aid to people suffering sudden cardiac arrest. CPR helps to circulate oxygen-rich blood to the brain. After the AED is attached and delivers a shock, the typical AED will prompt the operator to continue CPR while the device continues to analyze the victim.”

The minutes between the time cardiac arrest strikes and when responders arrive are critical. Each year, sudden cardiac arrest is responsible for the deaths of more than 325,000 people in the United States. According to a 2014 report from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, instances where bystanders were able to provide care via defibrillation were three times as likely to result in the patient surviving the ordeal.

As with CPR, the more people who are certified, the safer our community becomes.

We recently were honored to receive a check for $1,000 from the Canandaigua Rotary to purchase a new AED for the squad. This AED will be at the public events we attend throughout the year, will be made available onboard our first response fly car and will be used by our certified emergency medical technicians. Without the Rotary’s donation, this purchase would not have been possible.

Having a life-saving device at our local, highly attended events is invaluable and words can’t express how appreciative we are for their contribution.

I was fortunate enough to get to speak at a recent meeting about staffing and the opioid epidemic in our area, and am humbled by the support the Rotary continues to show our team. The new device is here and ready to go — whether it’s used as a training tool or to provide actual life-saving care.

As a nonprofit organization, we have always relied on our friends and neighbors, like the Rotary, to help support our team with the best equipment and training available.

Having that support allows us to do our job.

As members of this community, everyone has the opportunity to provide that kind of support by becoming AED certified. No matter how simple the device may be, the pressure of the moment can affect anyone, making training that much more necessary.

If you’re interested in becoming AED certified, feel free to contact us for our next scheduled session.

About this series

Matt Sproul is chief of Canandaigua Emergency Squad, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit unit that receives no tax-based support, responds to more than 5,000 calls per year in Ontario County and partners with the East Bloomfield Volunteer Ambulance. For more information, go to If you have questions or want to get involved, send emails to