Last year's entries have been posted above automatic external defibrillators all over Sioux Falls to draw attention to the life-saving devices, said Sioux Falls Fire Rescue EMS educator Amy Marsh.
"(People were) not aware they were even there," she said about the artless AED boxes. "They're a white case on a white wall."
NOTE: View the gallery above for 2014 submissions.
Giving the community a sense of ownership in the AED designs encourages them to become familiar with them, Marsh said. Holding a contest a second year allows people to display their creativity while combatting the myth that the devices are complicated to use. I asked Marsh if that stigma held people back from using them in an emergency.
"When they think of AEDs, they think of the paddles," Marsh said, referring to the procedure often dramatized in shows like ER and Grey's Anatomy. "(The art) is more inviting."
Aspiring artists in the under-12 and over-13 divisions can submit their creations by the end of the day June 14 via the contest's Facebook page at http://argusne.ws/1GSDlw4. Winners, who will earn between $100 to $500 depending on the age division, will be decided via a poll from June 22-30 at argusleader.com.
A few weeks ago, I learned how to use an AED while reporting on a free AED. demonstration at the Empire Mall. Like a lot of people, I was intimidated by the sterile-looking box that I was sure required years of training and expertise to operate. But the EMT who was running the demo casually showed me how to use it and I was blown away by how easy it was.
The box verbally tells you what to do; you just follow the instructions, put the sticky pads in the right places and press the button while doing CPR.
As an Argus 911 reporter, I hear a lot of calls about people whose hearts have stopped beating and are experiencing medical trauma. I often think about how scary it would be to encounter a person in that situation and to have to call it in.
It is affirming to know that I at least have the resources to offer help until the professionals can get there, and I hope making AEDs more visible will encourage more people to learn this simple but life-saving skill.