A small band of Breckenridge town workers, six in all, are being hailed as Everyday Leaders for their “incredible and persistent” efforts to bring a good idea to life over the course of two-plus years.
Together, Kay Atteberry, Howard White, Lisa Sockett, Steve Worrall, Tiffany Perez and Carmen Brashier helped produce an idea that could ultimately save lives, though it’s far more likely a question of when, rather than if, the automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, currently being installed in Breckenridge might be called into action, as the devices have already been credited with saves across Summit County.
An AED is an easy-to-use medical device that can fend off death caused by sudden cardiac arrest. It works by analyzing a person’s heartbeat and, if necessary, delivering an electric shock to reestablish an effective rhythm. In cases where an AED is needed, the difference between life and death can often be minutes.
As previously reported, the county already has a fairly robust network of AEDs, though the system’s only expected to get better with an ongoing campaign to ensure the AEDs are up-to-date, in good working order and included in the countywide registry so that 911 dispatchers can tell callers exactly where the closest unit might be in the event of emergency.
Having a comprehensive, countywide network of registered AEDs, especially with units placed in high-traffic areas, has not only been endorsed by local medical professionals, but the idea has gained traction among the business community, including at Breckenridge Grand Vacations, one of the county’s largest employers.
But the recent efforts to expand and update the stock of AEDs across Summit County might not have happened if not for the early work of an aquatics coordinator, an HR analyst and a police officer tasked with exploring Breckenridge’s AED program.
“I think it’s really important the work that they did, and it really was extraordinary,” said assistant town manager Shannon Haynes, as town officials honored the group with a series of Everyday Leader Awards last week before Breckenridge Town Council.
During her remarks, Haynes highlighted what made the group’s “organic, grassroots” initiative so successful and said the countywide push is “all because this group started this project here” in Breckenridge.
Haynes has been with the town for 11 years now, and she said she’s never seen a project like this one come through.
The effort to boost the AEDs in Breckenridge dates back to about two years ago when aquatics coordinator Brashier, HR analyst Atteberry and police officer Perez, came together for an internal leadership development program the town offers, Brashier recalled.
Through the program, the workers from very different departments were asked to dive into Breckenridge’s existing AED program and seek out ways to enhance it. They zeroed in on the locations of the units and the town core.
When they presented to the senior leadership team, they recommended having one AED for every 150 Breckenridge citizens, primarily in the town core, and determined the town would need about 47 units to accomplish this goal.
Furthermore, they suggested that the town’s safety committee should take on the project, as Brashier recalled they didn’t want the effort to fizzle out and thought a long-term “champion” could continue the work and “really bring the project to life.”
Heeding the group’s recommendation, the town’s safety committee formed a sub-committee comprised of White, Sockett, Worrall and Brashier. Over the course of the next year, they continued to work on the town’s AED program and identified ideal locations for additional AEDs while also investigating the various types, features and cost of the units.
All said and done, they produced a comprehensive proposal suggesting the town buy 45 new AEDs for about $70,000. The plan also covered the installation of new units throughout the town core and replacing older units so that all Breckenridge police vehicles, town buses and town facilities will have AEDs.
In the end, town council agreed to pony up $70,000 for new AEDs in the 2019 budget. Once installed, the new AEDs will be mapped into the countywide system in hopes that, with increased accessibility, awareness and basic education, lives will be saved. The first unit was installed a couple weeks ago.
For their work on the project, all six town workers who had a hand in the effort to bolster the town’s AED program were acknowledged for their influence, strong relationships, knowledge, ability to adapt and communication skills and given Everyday Leader Awards during last week’s town council meeting.
“To be a part of this from start to finish is probably one of the greatest accomplishments of my career,” Brashier said as she expressed great excitement about getting the chance to help improve the network of AEDs in town and increase awareness about how to use them.
Worrall might have come on board mid-project, but for him it’s been exciting simply seeing how town employees identified a need and that message worked its way up to the town’s elected leaders.
“It’s a great honor,” Worrall said of the award. “(But) the feeling that our work went into a program that could have such a huge impact on anybody at any time, at any location in Breckenridge to keep them safe, that’s what has meant the most to me.”
Even though the traction their idea has gotten so far has been somewhat shocking, it would appear the town workers’ efforts are still spreading.
“Just so you guys know, you motivated me to buy (an AED) for the Hearthstone,” said Dick Carleton, a local business owner and town councilman, as he told the group of town employees on Tuesday that the restaurant will soon hold an AED training session for its staff.