By Tyler Kennedy

Staff Writer

The Durham Fire Department is partnering with Greek organizations to place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in fraternity and sorority houses.

In April 2014, Alpha Xi Delta (AZD) became the first Greek house at UNH to purchase an in-home automated external defibrillator (AED). Since then, a number of other UNH Greek fraternities and sororities have followed suit by either purchasing or planning on purchase an AED in the near future.

According to the American Red Cross, an AED is a portable medical device that analyzes the heart’s rhythm, and if necessary, delivers an electrical shock that helps to re-establish an effective rhythm for the heart. They describe AEDs as “an easy to operate tool for someone with no medical background.”

The Red Cross reports that over 350,000 people suffer from sudden cardiac arrest each year, making it one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.

At this point in time, AEDs are present in the houses belonging to Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Phi and Alpha Xi Delta.

According to Durham firefighter Dave Blatchford, who worked closely with the Greek Organizations mentioned above, there is one major goal for this program. “Our goal as a union is to get (an AED) in every single fraternity and sorority on campus,” Blatchford said.

The process of purchasing AEDs for the Greek houses is fully independent from the University. Each AED costs approximately $870, after a discount obtained through the state.  As the first group, AZD worked with the Durham Fire Department to raise money through the selling of custom t-shirts. The process proved to be a success for AZD, and Alpha Chi Omega followed suit with the aid of Blatchford and his peers.

“This (program) is a no-brainer to sell. Just either come by with $870, or sell 120 t-shirts for $15. That will pay for it. It’s that simple,” Blatchford said.

Each t-shirt costs around $7 to make, and can be made customizable to support each organization’s Greek letters and colors. Blatchford remarked that he had three of the shirts hanging up on his wall in the station, adding that he hopes to have more soon.

According to Blatchford, Pi Kappa Alpha and Sigma Beta are both in the process of purchasing AEDs for their respective houses. Pi Kappa Alpha is using the method of selling the custom t-shirts while Sigma Beta is not.

Sigma Beta president Ian Szilagyi was upfront about his support for the project. 

“This is a project that we’ve been working closely on with the Durham Professional Firefighters Association to bring another element of comfort and safety to 26 Madbury, both for the brothers and our guests,” he said. “It’s the type of proactive decision that may just save a life, and Sigma Beta is proud to be a part of the growing Greek community that is taking steps towards being prepared for the unexpected.”

Even though this effort isn’t officially affiliated with the university, it has received praise from the UNH community.

“AEDs save lives and I love the idea of having them more available,” said Erin Courville, Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life. “You never know when one might be needed. Parents visit the houses from time to time and there are students who have heart conditions. I fully support this effort.”