Originally created 07/31/05

Lights can alert emergency responders



Winfred Ray has survived a heart attack.

So has every other member of Mended Hearts Inc., Aiken Chapter 294, Mr. Ray said.

The group wants others to have the same shot at survival, and it thinks a special kind of light switch can help.

"It's for any emergency crew that can't find your house number," Mr. Ray explained.

Flip it over to the "blink" position, he said, and the EMTs looking for the person who called 911 can spot the light flickering.

When someone is having a heart attack, Mr. Ray said, "minutes means lives."

"Once they come on a block or come on a street and see that light blinking, they know exactly where to go to," he said.

The switches have three positions: off, blink and normal.

When people call for help through 911, they should flip the switch to the blink position. The light will flicker on and off, either in the yard or the front porch, depending on which lights the switch operates.

Mended Hearts has been buying the light switches from Aiken Lighting on East Pine Log Road at a discount - $10 per switch.

Mended Hearts sells them at the same price, Mr. Ray said.

"We make no profit on them whatsoever," he said.

Neither does Aiken Lighting, which brokered a deal between Mended Hearts and the manufacturer, Pass and Seymour.

Mended Hearts buys them in bulk, getting them essentially at cost, said Nick Busby, the manager of Aiken Lighting.

"They had seemed like they were really trying to do something good with it," he said.

"We just figured we'd get on board and do what we could. The more of these switches that are out there, the better off everybody is."

The organization already has sold about 200 switches, Mr. Ray said.

Mended Hearts also is teaming up with the sheriff's office. Officials are working to teach emergency personnel to recognize the blinking lights for what they are, Mr. Ray said.

Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Michael Frank said the agency is forming a partnership with Mended Hearts but was not prepared to release any details.

For more information about the emergency light switch, call 649-2393.

Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or sandi.martin@augustachronicle.com.

Switch for Life

Mended Hearts Inc., Aiken Chapter 294, sells emergency light switches that help emergency responders find the house easier because of the blinking outside lights. Through a special deal, the switches are available at cost for $10 through Mended Hearts. For more information, call 649-2393.