November 23, 2014

Local church gets defibrillator with help of grants

By James Kuch
News Editor | news@arenacindependent.com
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AuGRES — Members of St. Paul Lutheran Church in AuGres are learning to operate the newest church addition: an automated external defibrillator.

After four separate health scares involving church members in six months, church member Jill Gehringer said St. Paul Lutheran had had enough.

“We had four separate incidents where people suffered some sort of stroke or heart problem, and we wanted to do something to be prepared,” she said.

Gehringer said Tim Bender, the church’s pastor, came to her and said something needed to be done. The church held CPR classes taught by Ron Jackson, an emergency medical technician with Arenac County Mobile Medical Response.

“We started having CPR classes at St. Paul, and the person training us (Jackson) came to me and said the congregation should look to purchase a defibrillator,” she said. “That is what we did.”

Gehringer said Jackson helped the church find a new defibrillator and trained 10 church members on how to use the machine after it was purchased in July.

“He has offered to continue to offer some CPR training courses and said he will teach anyone how to use the defibrillator that would like to learn,” she said. “He said he would come back annually to teach us.”

The church received two grants to help cover the cost of the defibrillator: $500 from the Bay Area Community Foundation, and $665 from St. Paul Lutheran member Jan Walz, from her late husband George Walz’s memorial fund.

“The Bay Area Community Foundation has a health initiative fund that granted us the $500,” Gehringer said. “Jan Walz made her donation because she thought this a great thing for the church to have.”

Having a defibrillator has been an asset to the church, Gehringer said.

“When you have a (defibrillator) it becomes the lead instructor during an emergency situation,” she said. “Even people who have never had medical training can use this machine and help save a life.”

Gehringer said when the defibrillator is attached to someone who is experiencing a medical emergency, it will provide information to help direct those trying to help.

“It gives us more confidence and makes us feel comfortable,” she said.

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