Project to bring AEDs to remote county areas


People in remote areas of the county will have a better chance of surviving a cardiac event thanks to a 2019 Dubois County Leadership Academy project.

The project will place automated external defibrillator — AED— units at community areas in seven of the county’s more rural areas. Darek Turpin, Connie Stemle, Jeff Sendelweck, Misty Woods, Helen Camacho and Aaron Hurst designed and are implementing the project.

Turpin said the group looked at placing the units in the county’s outlying areas because those areas are farther from a hospital, so it would take ambulances longer to reach them. That time makes a big difference, Turpin said.

“For every minute that passes, your likelihood of surviving [a cardiac event] decreases by 10%,” Turpin said.

The Dubois County Leadership Academy launched in 2011 as an avenue for training leaders from across the county. Employers recommend employees for the program, and then they apply. Those accepted into a year’s class are split into groups of about five and charged with coming up with a capstone project to improve their communities.

To come up with their idea, Turpin said, his group looked at past projects for inspiration. A former group installed police call boxes at the Riverwalk in Jasper. That project stuck out to Turpin and his teammates.

“We liked the idea of doing something at the parks because they’re a gathering space,” Turpin said.

From there, the team looked at areas of the county in need. Turpin, who lives in Dubois, came up with the idea to focus on the county’s outlying areas, and the team agreed. They talked to local fire chiefs in those areas to find out what needs were there and finally settled on AED machines.

“One University of Pennsylvania study we looked at showed that 10% of cardiac arrest patients survive outside of a hospital,” Turpin said. “But in communities with an AED program, that jumps to 40%.”

When the team completes their project, AEDs will be installed at the Birdseye Conservation Club, the Holland American Legion, the Celestine Community Club, the St. Anthony Fire Station, the Dubois Ruritan Park, the Haysville Park and the Ireland Sportsman Club.

Right now, the team is working on the fundraising portion of their project and has raised about $1,700 with more donations set to come in. Each AED unit costs $1,400.

The team plans to have fundraising finished up this month so they can begin installing the AEDs later this month. The project should be completed in August.

Once the AEDs are installed, Turpin said, the team has asked the sites to maintain them. But, he said, it should be 10 years before the units need any maintenance.

“The battery lasts 10 years,” he said. “That’s the first maintenance.”

The other 2019 Leadership Academy team — consisting of Brad Buechler, Ryan Kelly, Rachel Miller, Contessa Monarrez, Amanda O’Brien and Lisa Witte — is developing Foster Packs, or backpacks filled with supplies that will go with foster children when the Department of Child Services removes them from their parents and places them in foster care. A story about that project is planned for Wednesday’s Herald.

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