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Hanalei Rotarians donate first of 50 AED units

KILAUEA — The first of 50 Automatic External Defibrillators that the Rotary Club of Hanalei plans to distribute was donated to the Kong Lung Center in Kilauea Thursday.

“Of course we’re thrilled to be the first, but in addition, it’s really important to have these around,” said Patricia Ewing, owner of the Kong Lung Center and the Kong Lung store. “We get lots of people going through here.”

Islandwide distribution of the AED units is the brainchild of retired physician and rotary club member Jeff Goodwin, who said statistics from the Hawaii Heart Foundation spurred him to action.

Cardiac arrest is the number one cause of death in people over the age of 40, he said, and only 10 percent of those people survive without intervention — whether that be CPR or the arrival of an ambulance.

“Cardiac arrest is completely different from heart attacks, and that’s something that people get mixed up all the time,” Goodwin said.

Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart malfunctions and stops beating unexpectedly, while heart attacks are a pumping problem that occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked, according to Hawaii Heart Foundation.

Heart attack victims may have immediate symptoms and the longer the person goes without treatment the greater the damage. Cardiac arrest victims can die within minutes, but cardiac arrest can be reversed in some victims if treatment arrives soon enough.

“That’s really why I started this awareness program for CPR. We’ve had six classes in the community and half of that is using the defibrillator,” Goodman said. “I also noticed that there’s no defibrillators around, and that’s when I came up with the idea.”

Annually, the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay holds the Black and White Ball and with their fundraising money this year, the club has decided to branch out.

“The club has wants to do a couple islandwide projects and not be devoted just to the North Shore,” said Jill Lowry, chairwoman of the Black and White Ball.

The club has three more AED units ready for donation, but the list of locations is still being formulated.

“We’re looking at schools — one of them will go to Kauai High School, and the Chin Young Village,” Lowry said. “We’re also considering places like Koke’e because of remoteness, so we’re taking suggestions at this point.”

Lowry said she met with Bill Arakaki, Kauai superintendent of schools, and is formulating plans to place AED units in the schools.

“Schools are used for more than just education, there’s community events after hours, so it’s a wise choice,” Lowry said. “There’s been accounts of them being used to help teachers and parents.”

Once they’ve distributed the AED units that have a sure destination, the club will decide where the next ones will be donated.

“The overall idea is to use our fundraising capabilities to purchase defibrillators and get them into special places in the community,” Goodman said.

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