2010-08-06 / Top Stories

Sorrentino Inadequate With AED Maintenance

By Amanda Grannis

A recent audit examining 12 recreation centers operated by the Department of Parks and Recreation found that each facility, including the Sorrentino Recreation Center, did not meet regulatory standards for the maintenance of onsite Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs).

Local Law 20, enacted in 2005, requires that AEDs be placed in public places, specifically in city operated parks throughout the five boroughs. An AED is often a lifesaving device, used to deliver an electrical shock to hearts in cardiac arrest. An estimated 160,000 deaths occur in the U.S. each year due to sudden cardiac arrests, largely in settings in which AEDs are unavailable.

While the Sorrentino Recreation Center and others were compliant in stationing AEDs, the audit found that the facilities failed to obey key aspects of Local Law 20.

While the Sorrentino Center was not found to have been lacking AED supplies during the city inspection, it was declared neglectful of other critical requirements. Auditors concluded that the Sorrentino Center failed to perform regular inspections of the AED’s function, inadequately planned ahead for a site-specific emergency, and had insufficient training for first responders.

“Hindsight is always 20/20, but preparing for an emergency takes consistency and organization,” said Comptroller John C. Liu, who headed the audit. “To prevent worst case scenarios, it is essential that Parks ensure this critical equipment is in top form.”

The report issued on the citywide audit attributes many of the deficiencies of the 12 centers to poor oversight by the Parks Department. A lack of follow up inspections and AED registration are also believed to be sources of problems.

In response to the findings, Liu issued a set of recommendations to the Department of Parks and Recreation to improve compliance with Local Law 20.

The guidelines included performing monthly inspections of AED supplies, daily inspections of AED status indicators, ensuring the constant presence of trained first responders, and instituting site-specific plans for each park facility.

Inadequate care of onsite AEDs is not considered by officials to be a matter of bureaucratic inefficacy, but a real risk to public safety. “It’s not a matter of technological divide,” said Liu, “”but simply a matter of commitment.”

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