MAILBAG: Heart-attack help?

Ann of Spring Lake asked, "Could you tell me if there is an organization or group that is putting defibrillators in all our schools, churches and businesses? Is there is a cost for this?"
Mark Brooky
Nov 16, 2012

ANSWER:

There are at least two initiatives in our area that can place an AED (automated external defibrillator) in public places.

An AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the potentially life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a patient, and is able to treat them through defibrillation — which is electrical therapy that stops the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to re-establish an effective rhythm, according to a Wikipedia explanation.

Jen Moore is the sales representative for West Michigan covering AED sales, as well as corporate CPR and first aid training, for the American Red Cross. She said most people aren’t aware that you can buy AEDs through the Red Cross.

"We work with three leading manufacturers," Moore said, "and, as a thank you, a portion of the sale is donated back to the Red Cross to help us continue our disaster relief services. Any school, church or business who is interested in purchasing an AED can definitely give me a call with any questions."

You can call Moore at 800-482-2411.

Another initiative started as an effort to make sure all ice rinks in West Michigan are outfitted with AEDs.

Randy Poel, a longtime Grand Haven public safety officer, suffered a heart attack while playing hockey at a local ice rink in February 2010. He was literally brought back to life with the help of an AED at the rink, and the actions of a trained firefighter and a rink employee who knew how to use it.

Poel said there were only a handful of rinks in the area, so they expanded the effort to help out a couple of local schools that had budget problems but wanted an AED for their sports programs.

"We have also placed units at a couple of golf courses and many churches," he said. "We placed one at the Grand Haven 9 movie theater, the Ski Bowl, the American Legion, the Eagles (club) and the Children's Assessment Center in Zeeland Township."

Poel said they've placed about 40 so far in West Michigan, with the majority in the Tri-Cities.

The City of Grand Haven is still accepting donations on Poel's behalf to keep his fund going. He anticipates having his application for legal nonprofit status finalized next month.

"Lisa and I hope to continue our mission for as long as we can," Poel said. "I believe over $40,000 has been raised since Lisa started this effort."

As far as the cost goes, Poel said they pay $900 for the units, which is almost half the retail cost. Wall cabinets cost an additional $150.

"The only thing I ask for is a donation to keep my fund going," Poel said. "Some churches donated more than my cost and some were only able to donate $500. I hope to get at least $500 and make up the difference with my fund, as I simply want to get as many units out there as possible."

Poel said he can also arrange to provide free training. For details, call Randy and Lisa at 616-842-9283.

Anyone wishing to donate to the Poels' AED project can send checks (payable to the City of Grand Haven/AED fund) to Grand Haven City Hall, 519 Washington Ave., Grand Haven, MI 49417.

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