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Posted by By Tess Ware March 4, 2023 on Mar 17th 2023

Boyne City man donates AEDs to local churches, American Legion

Boyne City man donates AEDs to local churches, American Legion
The Boyne area became a little bit safer last week after Jim White, retired owner of Boyne City Hardware, purchased 13 automated external defibrillators for all of the local churches that didn’t have one, as well as the local American Legion chapter.

White was inspired to purchase an AED for the hardware store, which is now run by his daughter, after seeing NFL player Damar Hamlin suffer a cardiac arrest during a game in early January. Hamlin required CPR and the use of an AED before being taken to the hospital.

“(Hamlin) was on the news every night, how he was getting better. I was watching that game and it was pretty obvious that the fact he had an ambulance there and started CPR with a defibrillator right away, saved him,” White said.

White decided to purchase one for the hardware store and the Boyne City Eagles club, but after learning the Eagles already had the equipment, he decided to reach out to all of the local churches in the Boyne area and purchase an AED for every church that didn’t already have one.

“So every church in the vicinity, not just Boyne City, has a defibrillator now,” White said. “(My thought) was that if some church lost a member, the first thing they’d do is have a fundraiser and get (an AED) for their church. So instead of waiting for the worst thing to happen, it’s just easier to just buy one and make everybody happy.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly stops beating and the lack of blood flow to the brain causes the person to lose consciousness. It requires immediate treatment in order to save the person’s life through CPR and sometimes defibrillation.

“Time equals survival rate,” Boyne City EMS Director Brenda Willson said. “Less than 10 percent of people survive cardiac arrest and out-of-hospital events are even lower, so having an AED speeds up the time to defibrillation. Even if (EMS) is completely staffed, it still takes time for us to respond somewhere. So if somebody's in a church for say, and they go into cardiac arrest and (someone nearby) can get them on an AED and it says to defibrillate them, that shock was delivered as fast as it could be. So it's time equals cardiac life.”

White reached out to Willson for advice on which AED to purchase so that the equipment would correspond to the EMS cardiac monitors.

“So that was a huge plus for us because every AED that we have in the city is going to be different. No matter where you go in the world, they may come in all different types. But he chose ones that would directly unplug and plug into ours,” Willson said.

When it was time for recipients to pick up their AEDs, Willson and members of her staff used a CPR dummy to demonstrate how to use the equipment. They also took the opportunity to encourage everyone there to become certified in CPR.

“So that was for us to do some community engagement and say, ‘Hey, we teach CPR. You should really consider becoming certified, this is what it takes. Please call us,’ and I have received tons of phone calls,” Willson said.

According to White, about 100,000 people come into the hardware store every year and collectively, employees put in about 17,000 hours per year. With an AED on-site and training made available to them, employees are prepared to take action should someone in the store or the surrounding businesses collapse.

“I was hoping that if people saw that or heard about it, they might think about getting one for their church or business. I said I hope nobody ever has to use it, that would be the ideal, but if somebody does, it's going to pay for itself,” White said.

One of the churches to receive an AED was the First Baptist Church of Boyne City. While the church is fairly small, with 30 to 40 people who regularly attend service, Pastor Tony Duty said they had been looking into purchasing the equipment themselves but hadn’t yet made the investment because of the cost.

“It's something that we hope we never have to use, but it's a blessing to have in the event that somebody needs it, it’s available to to help save their life,” Duty said.

For the rest of the congregation, Duty said the church is looking into organizing CPR classes for anyone who wishes to get certified.

The Boyne City American Legion post was another recipient of an AED. The organization regularly hosts events like bingo night and rents the hall out for other private events, so having the equipment will help to make all guests and members feel safer.

“(With the AED), we can help the EMS in case someone has a heart attack. If the EMS can’t get there for 10 minutes or 15 minutes, we might be able to save someone's life,” Legion member Ron Crozier said.

Willson encourages anyone who is interested to get CPR certified. While EMS doesn’t offer certifications, Willson said they have contacts that do. The class is $50 and includes training on AEDs.