Local News

Attorney's Death Highlights Lack Of Lifesaving Devices In Wake Buildings

Posted April 21, 2006

— Raleigh leaders are asking questions about defibrillators after a prominent attorney died in a Wake County courtroom. The county does not have the machines in every public building, but one local town does.

In Garner, the Town Hall, the Police Department, and even the senior center have automatic external defibrillators, or AED's. Town leaders just finished a $15,000 project to make sure the devices are in every main building and that all employees know how to use them.

Leaders showed off the AED's on Friday, just one day after attorney Tom Farris collapsed and died in a Wake County courtroom. His death shed light on the fact that Wake County buildings do not have AED's. County leaders formed a committee last summer to study the issue, but they say there are still questions.

"What we're in the midst of now is trying to decide how many do you have to have to cover a building, and where are we going to put them," said Wake County medical director Dr. Brent Myers.

Committee members recommended putting an AED on all 12 floors of the courthouse. Wake County's Sharon Brown says the county courthouse and county office building are top priorities because they are high rise buildings with high occupancy.

"There is the vertical response challenge, as it's called," said Brown. "The ability to get up in a building. No matter how fast you drive to it, it becomes a cumbersome thing for fire and for us."

While the town of Garner may have the upper hand on Wake County, the people there say just having the defibrillators and the training gives them a sense of security.

"Even if we never use it, at least we have it, and the one time that we are able to use it and provide early defibrillation for someone, it's paid for itself," said Sgt. Bruce Williams, with the Garner Police Department.

All fire trucks in the city and county are required to have defibrillators on board. Wake County leaders say they hope to have 8-10 devices in some downtown buildings by this summer.

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