Local Church Purchases Defibrillator to Protect Parishioners

A group of local parishioners are now official members of the “HeartShare” family.

The Grass Valley Baptist Church recently purchased an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) for placement in the building’s kitchen area—protecting any member of the congregation who might suffer a sudden cardiac arrest.

More than 500,000 will die this year from sudden cardiac arrest, and many who die will have had no presenting symptoms at all for heart disease.

Across the country, casinos, industrial sites, health clubs and airports are being equipped with Automated External Defibrillators to prevent sudden cardiac arrests — disruptions in the heart’s normal rhythm — from proving deadly.

In Winnemucca, 225 of the units have been distributed since 2005 through Humboldt General Hospital’s Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) program, “HeartShare.”

According to HGH EMS Rescue Lieutenant Debbie Whittaker who manages the program, rescuers have just 10 minutes to act in the event of sudden cardiac arrest, which makes having an AED a true life saver. Survival rates decrease by 7 percent to 10 percent for every minute that goes by without treatment.

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

Studies show using AED-type devices double victims’ survival rates.

In late 2005, HGH EMS Rescue Chief Pat Songer was successful in acquiring 11 of the units through federal grant funding that was facilitated through the Nevada Rural AED Program and Nevada EMS Public Access Defibrillation Program.

Then in January 2006, the Humboldt General Hospital District Board of Trustees agreed to purchase nine more of the units for distribution to priority locations within Winnemucca and Humboldt County.

Since that time, several private businesses have opted to purchase the units through the hospital’s nonprofit program. Additionally, the Humboldt Hospital Auxiliary generously agreed to fund 19 more to be placed in the county’s schools and rural community centers.

In all, Whittaker said the hospital’s goal of placing 200 AED units in public and private venues throughout Humboldt County has been surpassed.

Grass Valley Baptist Church Elder Bill Yielding said a fellow church member works at Humboldt General Hospital and suggested the AED purchase.

Yielding, who used to be an EMS crew member, was supportive of the idea—as was Pastor Jeff Johnson.

“We thought it would be good to have,” said Yielding. “Even if you use it one time, that’s a life, and it’s worth it.”

The group contacted Whittaker who helped facilitate the purchase through the AED vendor.

Whittaker will also service the unit several times each year to ensure it’s in working order, as well as train parishioners in how to use it.

Whittaker said she was elated to help Grass Valley Baptist Church become an AED site. “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,” she said. “We are so grateful to Grass Valley Baptist for making this a priority.”

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