HUDSON — A resident whose suggestion led to donations of funds to purchase Automated External Defibrillators (AED) for city parks was honored by municipal leaders for her efforts Tuesday night.
Council unanimously passed a resolution recognizing Michelle Ciancio for being a catalyst in the contribution of more than $22,000 to acquire seven AED units so far.
An AED is a "lightweight portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart," according to the American Heart Association. "The shock can potentially stop an irregular heart beat (arrhythmia) and allow a normal rhythm to resume following sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)."
Trent Wash, the city’s assistant public works director, said two devices will be installed at both Veterans Way Park and Hudson Springs Park, and one each at Barlow Farm Park, Oak Grove Park and Barlow Community Center during the next two to three months. One of the AED boxes has been put in at Veterans Way Park, but it is not operational yet, according to Wash.
He added donations are still being sought for five more AEDs that will be installed at Middleton Park, Cascade Park, Colony Park and Ellsworth Meadows Golf Club (two). Each device costs about $3,000, according to Wash.
Before the effort initiated by Ciancio, Wash said there were four AEDs in various city parks.
Ciancio on Tuesday told city leaders she was "astonished" at the recognition she had received.
"I don’t deserve this," said Ciancio. She explained that as a banker she typically works on providing solutions to problems.
"When I see something, I just naturally want to fix it," Ciancio said.
She became emotional when she thanked her husband, Brady, whom she said "has always understood and shared my conviction that the communities are healthiest when its resources are equally shared."
Ciancio thanked Brady for his support during a period of time where she spent a lot of time researching information about AEDs.
"I will always be grateful for you," said Ciancio to her husband. "I’m so incredibly grateful to live in a city in which such a small voice matters."
She explained her effort began last year when she signed the Lindsay’s Law paperwork for her son to participate in a youth baseball league. This paperwork provided information about sudden cardiac arrest.
"I was scared," said Ciancio. "I started researching sudden cardiac arrest."
Ciancio said she was initially concerned about her son, but when she was at one of the parks, she said she looked around and noticed the wide age range of people.
"I thought to myself: what are they going to do if something happens to them?" asked Ciancio. "And I realized it was my responsibility to look out for people."
After conducting research, Ciancio called Council President Bill Wooldredge (At Large) about installing AEDs at city parks. Wooldredge suggested she attend a council meeting to share her idea. Ciancio did so, though she admitted to being "terrified" because she doesn’t like public speaking.
"Our leaders, all of you, rose to the occasion and you’re protecting the community that you serve and that’s amazing to me," said Ciancio.
Ciancio thanked city leaders, as well as the businesses and foundations who have already donated funds toward buying AEDs.
"You are, and always will be, heroes in my mind," said Ciancio.
Mayor David Basil praised Ciancio for her effort.
"That is amazing," said Basil. "I have often said that Hudson is a community built on volunteer spirit and Mrs. Ciancio, you are truly the epitome of that volunteer spirit. You saw a need, you volunteered, you stepped forward and you helped lead our community to meet that need."
Council member Alex Kelemen (Ward 3) said when Ciancio visited a meeting in April 2018, "She made [her case] very eloquently. Since that time, staff has done a great job in working with her, and the community has stepped up to do this."
Council member Dennis Hanink (Ward 1) noted Ciancio had only lived in the city for a short time before bringing the issue forward.
"I think it does underscore the importance and the value that we should and do place in our residents and their contributions to the city," said Hanink.
Hudson Fire and EMS Chief Jerry Varnes said AEDs can be used by people who do not have medical training.
"It is a wonderful device," said Varnes in a video presentation that was played at Tuesday’s council meeting. "It talks you through and tells you exactly what to do. All you have to do is push the power button and it will tell you [to] apply the pads, push the button now, shock now, stand clear."
Varnes emphasized that "time is absolutely of the essence with cardiac events and AEDs."
"That AED being there on site gives so many opportunities that CPR doesn’t," noted Varnes. He noted about 90 percent of people who experience sudden cardiac arrest ending up dying from the event.
In the video, Wash said putting in these devices will "greatly enhance the survival rate of anyone who has a cardiac issue" while in one of the parks.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.