Defibrillators installed in ‘places of public assembly’

The University of Miami installed 54 life-saving devices around campus in January as a result of an Aug. 17 Coral Gables city ordinance.

Automatic External Defibrillators must be present in all places of public assembly in excess of 20,000 square feet, the ordinance says.

The defibrillators have been placed at all entrances of the residential colleges, in the dining halls, in each of the nine public safety vehicles and on the first floors of every main building such as the Ashe building and the UC.

Their purpose is to prevent death from a heart attack, which can cause a person to suffer brain damage or death within four to six minutes, according to the American Heart Association.

Although the AEDs are available for emergencies, some students are apprehensive at the thought of using them.

“I’ve used an [AED] on a dummy but not a person,” Andie Smestad, a sophomore, said. “I would be afraid to shock a person. What if they didn’t need it?”

Still, the devices are equipped with verbal step-by-step directions. Once a person opens an AED kit, a voice recites instructions, said Kenneth Capezzuto, director of Environmental Health and Safety.

The university also provides AED and CPR classes that are hosted through the department of Risk and Management.

All members of the university community can sign up for the free course.

Although the university is not required to have AED training for faculty or staff, the course is recommended.

“The more familiar a person is with AED the less hesitant that person will be to use [it],” Capezzuto said.

Freshman Elyse Feinerman, who has taken CPR and AED courses, said she is confident that she would be able to help in an emergency.

“Absolutely, the new defibrillators tell you everything,” she said. “Anyone [can] use it.”

Najwa-Monique Sharpe may be contacted at