PRINCEVILLE — It was just six months ago that the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay launched its “Heart of Gold” fundraiser to install automated external defibrillator at key locations around Kauai and on Niihau.
The response, said club president John Oszust, has been fantastic. Enough money, nearly $45,000, has been donated to purchase 20 AEDS that could save lives.
“It’s really been amazing what’s been done in a short time,” Oszust said. “When we started in December the target was 50 units.”
They’re almost halfway there in a short time. And they added one to the list when Josie Cortez, president of the Kapaa Rotary Club, presented a check for $2,215 — the cost of a unit — to Oszust that pays for one AED.
She said the Kapaa clubs really wanted to support this AED rive, especially considering how important it was.
“It benefits all of us,” Cortez said.
Medical officials say a quick response can save someone suffering sudden cardiac arrest — and an AED is a critical lifesaving tool to have nearby.
Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death. Key for survival is someone recognize what is happening, calling 911 and starting CPR to keep the blood pumping.
AEDs have been placed in areas including Ching Young Village in Hanalei and Kong Lung Village in Kilauea. Both are areas that generally have large crowds and also, considering their geographic location, have longer response times in emergency situations.
Knowing that having an AED close by can save someone suffering cardiac arrest, the club to “aggressively” trying to have the campaign wrapped up by next year.
Islandwide distribution of the AED units was 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, and only 10 percent of those people survive without intervention — whether that be CPR or the arrival of an ambulance.
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.
Oszust said the club has a list of places that AEDs are needed, and it will continue to raise money to pay for them. Golf courses, schools and Kukui Grove Center are on that list.
“Anywhere there is a large volume of people,” he said.