HeartSine AEDs Save Lives in Nicaragua

HeartSine automated external defibrillators (AEDs) placed in Nicaragua helped to save two lives in 2011. How those AEDs came to be in Nicaragua, a place where access to medical technology is extremely limited, is largely due to the drive of one woman: Laurieann Milligan, Community Outreach Coordinator of Med-Care Ambulance Service, the Western Maine branch of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association (SCAA).

Through her work with Med-Care, Milligan has been involved with the deployment of close to 150 AEDs in Western Maine as well as countless hours of AED, CPR and sudden cardiac arrest education. When Milligan encountered a group of orthopedic doctors from Maine that travels to Nicaragua, her first thought was to join forces so that she could raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and deploy AEDs in a place where they were sorely needed. An alliance between the Western Maine SCAA and the group of orthopedic doctors was formed.

Shortly after, when Milligan met a HeartSine representative at a Parent Heart Watch conference in 2010, she told him about her mission to take three AEDs to Nicaragua the following year.  That fortuitous meeting resulted in donations from HeartSine Technologies facilitated by HeartSine representative Steven Garrett and HeartSine distributor Brian Marshall. Three HeartSine AEDs and a HeartSine trainer were sent to Nicaragua with Milligan.

“It was a great team-building collaborating effort,” said Milligan. “Everyone at HeartSine really helped to streamline our efforts – especially with getting the units converted to Spanish speaking units.”

In Nicaragua the three AEDs were deployed in the city of Chinandega at the local hospital, clinic and fire department. More than 200 people (including hospital and fire department staff) were trained in CPR, AED use and sudden cardiac arrest awareness.

That training paid off for a 68 year old man who was saved by an AED at the local clinic and a 77 year old woman who was saved at the hospital that first year. “The initial program was so well received that we were booked solid for training classes the following year,” said Milligan. The group returned in 2012 to conduct additional training. Milligan hopes to return to Nicaragua in 2013 to place additional AEDs in another community.

“Our top priority is to make a difference in a community by placing at least three AEDs – one each in the local hospital, clinic and fire department,” said Milligan. “Most communities in Nicaragua have no advanced life saving abilities. They simply don’t have the resources we have in the States. By providing access to AEDs and CPR training we can help save lives.”

HeartSine AEDs are available in 23 languages and are saving lives in more than 40 countries.

Learn more about the author Whitney Brostrom