Foundation springs for defibrillators
Saving lives isn't the Baldwin Education Foundation's business, but it can help.
The education foundation's board voted to purchase four defibrillators for the Baldwin School District a couple of weeks ago. Each elementary school received the Automated External Defibrillator machines. Baldwin High School and Baldwin Junior High School each have one in place already.
"The Baldwin Education Foundation stepped up and is paying for all of the AEDs going into the elementary buildings in the district," Supt. Paul Dorathy said. "I feel very strongly that it is important to have them in all of our buildings for the benefit of staff, students and patrons."
Education foundation Director Kathy Gerstner said an event at BHS sparked the interest in the idea to purchase the machines for every building in the district. BHS secretary Liz Nigh suffered a heart attack and the defibrillator there would have been used on her if the ambulance crew had not arrived as quickly as it did.
"After the incident in the high school, we thought we ought to have one in every building," Gerstner said. "We thought it was imperative that every school have one."
Before Christmas, elementary school nurse Cathy Kivett discovered the AEDs were being sold at a discounted price. She talked to Dorathy about purchasing four machines.
"I spoke to him about it and I told him we have some children with some cardiac concerns," Kivett said. "He was amazing. There was no hesitation. He just said get me some prices."
Kivett came back with the prices, which were approximately $300 less than the normal cost.
"I gave him the prices, he got up out of his chair, walked down to Pam (Colson, district treasurer) and said let's get them," Kivett said. "I told him I would see if some of the merchants in the community can make a donation since it's quite an expense to the district."
Kivett came up with the idea of sending letters to community members and businesses to see if some of the cost could be covered. Then, she contacted Gerstner to see if the foundation would pay for the letters' postage.
The response Kivett received shocked her.
"She said don't worry and let me see what I can do to help you," Kivett said. "Then she came back and said it was all taken care of. Not only are the AEDs paid for, but also the cost of an instructor, the books and AED and CPR training are available now. Kathy Gerstner is incredible."
Each defibrillator costs approximately $1,100, making the total charge to the foundation about $4,500.
The education foundation board voted to pay for the AED machines to prevent the school district from having to burden the cost.
"Clearly the machines save lives," said Patty Irick, BEF board president. "The BEF trustees felt strongly that this was an excellent place to use our resources. I know Cathy Kivett is already working on scheduling training sessions for interested faculty and staff."
Several staff members from each elementary school went through a training session Monday night. Baldwin High School teacher Ginny Honomichl taught the session.
The night included AED and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation training. It lasted four hours Monday.
"It's been proven that this is a life-saving mechanism as well as CPR," Kivett said. "It restarts the heart when the heart stops."
The AEDs can restart a normal heart rhythm to a heart that has stopped beating effectively. It automatically analyzes a heart's rhythm and delivers and electric shock to the heart if the heart has an abnormal rhythm.
For every minute defibrillation is delayed, a victim's chance of survival drops about 10 percent.
"They are very important," Activities Director Gary Stevanus said. "In the event of cardiac arrest, the quicker you can get a heart beating regularly, the better the outcome tends to be. Having these on site saves us from having to wait for the paramedics to show up."
Each AED will be located in a spot that is easily accessible to school staff as well as the public when the building is being used for other events.
"They are going to be in locations that will never be blocked off from the community," Kivett said. "Since the community is paying for this, we felt they should have use of these also, not just the district."
The Baldwin City Lions Club recently purchased a second AED for BHS. Athletic Trainer Grant Hufford will carry it with him to events.
The BEF has a couple of upcoming events to raise money. On March 15, the foundation will be hosting a "State of the District" breakfast. Dorathy will be speaking at the event and tickets are $25 each.
The foundation will once again be sponsoring BHS' Starstruck in May. The proceeds from the event will go toward the BEF.