Defibrillators donated to A-A schools

Friday, April 9, 2021
AEDs, also known as defibrillators, located at the Roxy Theater and Alta Fitness Center.

The Buena Vista County Sheriff’s Department is going above and beyond to potentially save lives in the schools with its recent donation of equipment to the Alta-Aurelia School District in late 2020 and early 2021.

“The BV County Sheriff’s Dept recently donated four LifePaks which can be found in the Aurelia school building, Alta Fitness Center, & the Roxy Theatre in Alta,” Sonia Galvin, A-A District School Nurse, said. “The old and ‘new’ Alta High Schools, Alta Elementary building, & Aurelia Fitness Center each have a Phillip’s AED also stored in easy accessible metal cabinets with alarms.” AEDs are also referred to as defibrillators.

“We are pleased to have a grand total of 10 units!” Galvin said. The long-standing tradition of AEDs started with one in the Aurelia building donated by the Les Hiemstra family, she said. “There are different types of AEDs, and the Alta-Aurelia Community School District currently has two different brands. The adult & children pads along with the batteries require updates which in the past was a donation by the Alta PTO,” she said.

“Peg Hinkeldey, RN is in charge of certifying new staff and recertifying as needed in CPR, ie cardiopulmonary resuscitation and AED usage. The A-A CSD is prepared to ‘jump start’ a heart if the need arises,” Galvin said.

Captain Marty De Muth of the BV County Sheriff’s Office explained why this equipment is essential. “AED’s provide a quick response to a cardiac situation. It has been used in many situations involving adults on down to minors. Typically, our office uses the AED’s that we have on adults. Considering our deputies would typically be the first on a medical scene in the rural areas of the county it is a priority to have AED’s as part of our medical equipment. Outside the AED usage we are all trained in first aid and CPR. So we use the tools we have until an ambulance/paramedics or first responders arrive.”

This type of equipment helps in a school setting in several ways. “AED’s can provide that quick response to students in a cardiac event whether just during the course of a normal day or during a sporting event when an athlete or a crowd member would have a cardiac event,” De Muth said.

The recent donation project began when the county received grant money to purchase new AED’s. “I had obtained numerous Life Pak 500 AED’s from a military surplus program at no cost to the county/taxpayer,” De Muth said. “Outside of that our office had purchased the same type of AED’s in the mid 2000’s. So when the county offices obtained the new Zoll AED’s and turned in the old AED’s back to our office I met with the Sheriff and asked him if we could donate to medical staff around the county. I felt that merely throwing away equipment that is still functioning and useful was wasteful. So I reached out to our Emergency Management Director to obtain an email list of the medical services in our county.”

“After that I emailed these services and offered the AED’s up for donation to anyone that had a use for them. Some of the agencies in the area reached out and took some of the AED’s. One of the members of the medical services for Buena Vista County asked if he could pick up some AED’s to put into a school for the staff to use for medical incidents. We were more than happy to donate these AED’s so they could still make a difference.”

“Basically, the whole point of the donation was to put AED’s in a place that there are none and could be used if necessary,” De Muth said. “I just can’t say it enough that discarding equipment that could be used would bother me and I would not have felt right about it. AED’s are expensive and normally not an item figured into a budget. We were lucky enough to receive a donation of new AED’s and wanted to pay it forward by donating our old AED’s to agencies that could use them.”