Members of the Woodside community and representatives of the Sequoia Healthcare District will gather in front of the Woodside Fire Station Saturday to dedicate the community’s new Code Blue® 24/7 emergency response tower — placed there as a consequence of a sudden cardiac arrest incident five years ago and the product of countless hours of organizing, fundraising and donated manpower in the years since.
The Woodside tower is located on Woodside Road a few hundred yards from its intersection with Cañada Road and Mountain Home, and is central to the gathering point where recreational bicyclists, equestrians, dog-walkers, hikers, joggers, school-bound students and tourists traditionally gather to enjoy the pastoral scenery, the weather and good dining nearby.
The fire station often gets a knock on the door by someone experiencing a medical emergency — but sometimes the station is unattended because firefighters and paramedics are out on call.
The AED tower has instantaneous, two-way communication with the San Mateo County emergency dispatch center to respond to anyone pushing the button. If dispatch determines it’s a cardiac emergency, the dispatcher can remotely open a compartment on the tower that contains an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Dispatch also can send personnel to respond to whatever the emergency may demand.
AEDs are simple-to-use devices that apply an electrical shock to a victim in cardiac arrest and can restart the heart.
Five years ago Woodside Firefighter Troy Brush had one aboard when James Christie Olsson suffered arrest and crashed in front of a Woodside fire engine. Brush’s crew was second to respond and deployed an AED. Emergency response revived Olsson, however, he succumbed after 11 days in the hospital. Defibrillators were aboard the engines,but were not available extensively in the community.
“I had taught some classes and I picked AEDs for my research topic,” Brush, now Woodside AED Foundation President, said. “It created an awareness and I wanted to put in AEDs wherever they could do some good in the community. The more I read about the amazing stories of people whose lives had been saved made me more determined that I wanted to do that.”
As a result of the experience the Olsson family determined it wanted to support the effort as well, which lead to the formation of the Woodside AED Foundation to raise funds for the project and to coordinate the construction.
First to respond was the Sequoia Healthcare District, whose HeartSafe program has placed more than 300 AED-only boxes in public areas throughout the district over the past five years. HeartSafe also has trained more than 10,000 individuals in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation certification classes.
Sequoia provided the tower to the Woodside Fire Protection District at a cost in excess of $20,000.
The intervening five years were consumed in finding a location, obtaining required permits, raising the funds and building the 350 square-foot mini-park where it located.
The final installation is a landscaped area beneath a leafy canopy with a park bench and a water fountain with separate spigots for dogs, children and adults.
The work required a large amount of excavation and drilling for a new water well along with footings for poles and the tower.
The small dedication ceremony will be hosted by the Woodside Fire Protection District and Sequoia Healthcare District and will include remarks by Sequoia Healthcare District Board President Kim Griffin, Woodside Mayor David Tanner and San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Member Don Horsley.
The Woodside AED Foundation was created in memory of James Christie Olsson and is dedicated to creating a heartsafe community within the Woodside Fire Protection District by creating awareness of sudden cardiac arrest and improving public access to potentially lifesaving automated external defibrillators.
Sequoia Healthcare District provides major funding to numerous non-profit community health organizations that directly assist more 35,000 women, children and seniors in the district, which includes the cities of Atherton, Belmont, Menlo Park, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Carlos, Woodside, and portions of San Mateo and Foster City from Skyline Boulevard to the Bay.
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