The Haines Volunteer Fire Dept responds to a call in May 2016. (Emily Files)

The Haines Volunteer Fire Dept responds to a call in May 2016. (Emily Files)

The Haines volunteer fire department will soon be able to purchase more lifesaving equipment, with a donation from one local resident.

“I guess I just want to thank Lucy for this donation that’s going to benefit the community,” says Haines volunteer fire department ambulance captain Al Badgley. Recently, Lucy Harrell donated $10,000 to the department.

“The fire department is kind of an avenue to make this happen but we want to make sure that she is credited with potentially saving people’s lives. Not only this year, but for years to come,” says Badgley.

The money is for automatic external defibrillators, or AEDs.

“Which is a device that is used to determine whether someone’s heart is in need of being converted from a lethal arrhythmia to a rhythm that will make the heart function properly,” says Badgley.

Badgley says the tool is used in conjunction with CPR, increasing survival rates.

“With just CPR for someone that’s in cardiac arrest, the survival rate is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 to 5 percent,” says Badgley. “If you put an AED in probably the first two to four minutes, you can increase that 2 to 5 percent to almost 15 to 20 percent.”

And, he says it can be even higher than that.

“That is just with bystander CPR,” says Badgley. “If you incorporate the full gamut of having trained personnel and advanced medical equipment coming to the scene, within four to six minutes, Seattle has a success rate of over 50 percent.”

Harrell’s donation will allow the department to purchase new equipment, to install AEDs in areas that are currently lacking the tool.

“We’re kind of looking at areas, maybe remote areas, maybe out Mud Bay is a possibility,” says Badgley. “Trying to get a couple more in the core of town. Maybe have some at some of the churches or some areas where they have high volume of participants certain times of the year, where they may not be locked.”

But funds will also go toward maintaining existing AEDs and maintaining the new ones in the future.

“A lot of times people donate an AED to the community but what happens is five years from that we have about a $500 replacement bill for a battery for that defibrillator,” says Badgley. “And sometimes that can be overwhelming when you have ten of those going out simultaneously.”

There are a number of AEDs around town already, but there are some gaps – like Mud Bay, where the department is looking for somewhere that an AED could be stored.

“In the core of town we’re pretty good but the thing is you’re looking for an area that has high access but it has to be somewhat kept out of the cold,” says Badgley. “We can’t keep an AED where it would be potentially get frozen because the battery will freeze.”

Badgley says these are tools that can be used by anyone, but there is one important detail.

“The key is to have AEDs and people know where they are,” says Badgley, “versus if you have an AED and no one knows it’s there it’s going to be kind of worthless for that use.”

The department received news of the donation just before Christmas.

“So it was kind of a Christmas present for the fire department and for the community,” says Badgley. “It’s not just the fire department that’s benefiting with this. The community is going to benefit with this.”

Badgley encourages community members to take a CPR class with the fire department to learn the most efficient way to use the AEDs.