Reston Association to install defibrillators in more buildings, ballfields

Reston Association (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) will soon be a more common sight at Reston Association ballfields and buildings.

At a meeting Thursday (June 22) night, RA’s Board of Directors approved a motion to purchase the devices for community buildings and three major ballfield complexes at Brown’s Chapel, Hook Road and Lake Newport Soccer.

According to the American Red Cross, AEDs analyze the heart’s rhythm and deliver an electric shock to restablish an affective rhythm. The average response time for first responders after a 911 call is made is between 8 to 12 minutes.

The odds of survival drop by 10% each minute defibrillation is delayed, according to RA.

The cost of the project is $18,000. Staff noted that they plan to seek additional funding for more units during the 2024 and 2025 budget process and from Friends of Reston, the nonprofit that helps fundraise for RA.

Board president John Farrell urged the board to explore the issue at January meeting when he spoke as a member. He referred to football player Damar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills going into cardiac arrest on Jan. 2 after attempting a routine tackle. Doctors described it as a perfect storm when the chest is struck in a particular point when the heart is relaxed and with a specific amount of force.

“We ought to be able to figure out a way to have an AED available,” Farrell said.

Currently, all RA pools have AEDs during hours of operation, along with a backup aquatics unit, and there is one in the Central Services Facility building.

At a March board meeting, the board unanimously passed a motion directing the CEO to research viable solutions related to the issue, along with reaching out to Friends of Reston for funding. RA staff would install and manage the devices.

At last week’s meeting, board director Irwin Flashman failed to get enough votes to pass a motion to consider the decision of AEDs at ballfields separately from AEDs in RA buildings.

Flashman said he was concerned about how the devices would be housed.

“My concern is that there no building to store it,” Flashman said, adding, “We don’t know where they’re going to be placed and how they’re going to be secured.”

Staff noted that an installation and storage plan is in the works and would require approval from RA’s Design Review Board.

Board member Jalal Mapar — who was elected at the meeting to fill a vacant seat — said he was “baffled” by the discussion over how staff should install the devices.

“The staff already has a plan,” Mapar said. “They know what they need to do.”

“We don’t tell staff where to put diving boards either,” board member Mike Collins said.