A lot of hearts were broken on Sep. 21, 2015, after a tragedy involving a lost Knight named Michael Namey died from cardiac arrhythmia due to an enlarged heart. During a Student Government Association meeting on March 3, though, a resolution finally passed to increase the number of automated external defibrillators on campus.
The resolution, which was passed unanimously, calls for more AED machines to be added to UCF’s campus, which currently has a total of 76 AED machines.
The number of AEDs to be added has not been officially determined and is dependent on the budget. SGA senator Asmita Devkota, a nursing major, is in charge of the resolution. Devkota said she estimates that around 60 such machines may be added on campus.
Devkota found a petition on change.org trying to get signatures to obtain the same result, and, being in a position of significant influence, decided to make it happen.
“I just want students to know that UCF is not ignoring this,” Devkota said. “It just takes a lot of time to get through all the different departments, and approvals, and money and stuff. UCF hired a person who deals with this kind of information, and she suggested that we start moving some of the units while we’re waiting for others to arrive and that 60 AEDs be added around campus.”
This development comes as a pleasant surprise to Manny Orozco Ballestas, a senior political science major who was the EMT who first responded to Michael Namey.
Ballestas wrote a heartfelt letter about the tragedy in a personal Facebook post that went viral and has since been working with the American Heart Association to spread awareness of the importance of AED availability across the state.
“I’m completely overwhelmed,” Ballestas said. “This is the first time I hear of this, and it just makes me really happy, because it’s something that I personally have been fighting for in the background with senators that I know, and it’s something that I’ve been trying to promote on campus.”
It is currently unknown as to when the machines will be added and where the funding for the extra AEDs will come from. UCF’s Environmental Health and Safety Department is currently looking for grants to purchase the additional machines. Until they get the money they need, the current AED units around campus will be relocated to more accessible spots that generally see more students.
Ballestas said he understands if UCF might have initially been hesitant to spend so much money on purchasing more AED machines because incidents similar to what happened to Michael Namey rarely occur.
Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States among adults over the age of 40, according to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. However, AED machines come with a hefty price tag, costing anywhere between $800 to $2,000.
“From a business and financial standpoint, I understand why the school was hesitant to add more AED machines," Ballestas said. "They’re very expensive and they’re very rarely used, so it doesn’t really make sense to spend so much money [on them]. But speaking from a moral standpoint, speaking from the standpoint of a first responder, it is literally a determining factor between saving someone’s life and someone dying."
Gabby Baquero is the Entertainment Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @Gabby_Baquero or email her at MariaB@centralfloridafuture.com.