Hospital, Employee Committee Donate AED to Boys and Girls Club of Winnemucca

The Boys and Girls Club of Winnemucca received a very special “heart” donation recently.

Humboldt General Hospital and the Humboldt General Hospital Employee Committee split the cost of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and donated it to the new facility.

“Cardiac arrest strikes quickly and many times without warning,” said HGH CEO/Administrator Jim Parrish, “so we wanted to make sure people are protected.”

Sudden cardiac arrest is a disruption in the heart’s normal rhythm. Twenty-five percent of victims will not have any warning signs before the onset of arrest, although prior heart disease is a major risk factor, as is family history.

Approximately 425,000 people will experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the United States this year. If victims wait for emergency medical services, only about 10 percent will survive. But past data suggests that if a bystander is nearby who can treat the patient immediately with an AED, the survival rate jumps to more than 31 percent.

“EMS may not be able to reach a victim within the ideal three- to five-minute window,” said Humboldt General Hospital Public Access Defibrillator Program Manager Debbie Whittaker, “which is why prompt action by bystanders is so critical.”

The electric shock delivered by an AED briefly stops all electrical activity in the heart, which gives the organ a chance to resume its normal rhythm.

Whittaker said that’s why casinos, industrial sites, health clubs and airports across the country are being equipped with AEDs in the hope that bystanders will prevent sudden cardiac arrests from proving deadly.

In Winnemucca, nearly 250 of the units have been distributed since 2006 through Humboldt General Hospital’s Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) program, “HeartShare.”

Some of the units were purchased through grant funding, the mines, area businesses and Humboldt General Hospital. The Humboldt Hospital Auxiliary also donated 19 AEDs about 10 years ago in an effort to launch the local PAD program.

Now with the donation to The Boys and Girls Club of Winnemucca, area residents are that much closer to help.

Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Chad Peters said, “We are so thankful to have an AED for our club. With us providing services from 6 year olds to senior citizens, we really see health and safety as a huge issue for our 36,000-square-foot facility—especially with the recreational fitness center and walking track we will have on the second floor.”

Peters added, “We truly appreciate all that our community is doing for us.”

Whittaker said she hopes the new placement will provide a model for other businesses and organizations to follow. “We have a list of places where we would like to place one of these units,” she said, “and we need the community to help make that happen.”

The hospital can help facilitate the purchase of an AED for $1,495 plus shipping and tax; the units usually retail for about $2,300. HGH does not make any profit on the sales.

The units are very simple and easy to use. HGH EMS Rescue Chief Pat Songer said the devices are so simple even a child can use one properly. AEDs analyze a person’s heart rhythm and deliver a defibrillation shock only if it detects one is needed.

“It’s recommended to have training, but it’s not needed,” said Songer. “It’s simply a matter of taking the device off the wall, turning it on and applying two patches to individuals and standing back. It’s extremely intuitive.”

Songer added, “When you compare the cost of an AED versus the value of a human life, there really is no question that we need more of these units in the community. We are very grateful to HGH and to the Employee Committee for this latest donation.”

For more information on the Humboldt General Hospital Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) program, “HeartShare,” please call Humboldt General Hospital Public Access Defibrillator Program Manager Debbie Whittaker at (775) 623-5222, ext. 1363, or email at