It’s second nature for Kirsten Wagmeister — when she walks into a building, she tries to spot an automated external defibrillator unit, or AED. After three years on the HeartSaver committee, it’s all a part of the goal to place an AED wherever one is needed.
“Our mission has not changed since we started,” she says. “We’re right at about 150 placements now. But that changes every week.”
In the July/August 2015 issue of Evansville Living, HeartSaver, a collaboration between the Deaconess Foundation and The Heart Hospital, shared its mission to place AEDs throughout the Tri-State in the story “Marching to the Beat.” The committee’s sole purpose is to raise funds for these devices wherever they are needed, concentrating on schools, churches, and places where people gather. After three years, however, the group is looking at a new opportunity — equipping rural and municipal first responder vehicles without AEDs.
“With first responders, they are on the scene so quickly. When you are having a cardiac event, seconds are so important,” says Deaconess Foundation Annual Planned Giving Officer Mark Moore. “If they are equipped with AEDs, we’re hoping they can give people a chance.”
With a reach throughout southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Western Kentucky, the HeartSaver crew already has made progress in their new mission. A recent grant awarded by the Posey County Community Foundation through Smithfield Communications allowed the organization to place 26 AEDs with first responders in that county.
Alcoa recently has agreed to help sponsor nine new units for the Newburgh police department, which had out-of-date units.
More placements are sure to come, both Wagmeister and Moore say. Though HeartSaver has a new focus on first responders, they will continue to help place AEDs in schools, churches, nonprofit organizations, and any other place in need.
“We keep going on,” says Wagmeister. “We have an endless waiting list it seems. It doesn’t sound really exciting, but it’s what we do — we buy AEDs and place them.”
For more information on HeartSaver, call 812-842-3472.