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Why I Help - Hydie Friend, River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, Morgantown, West Virginia
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by Sharon J. Alfred, Red Cross Volunteer Journalist
 
November 24, 2009

You never know what actions in the past can save a life in the present. Ask Hydie Friend. Her past gift donation for an automated external defibrillator (AED) machine, saved a stranger's life in the present-day. An AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the potentially life threatening cardiac conditions, and applies electrical therapy to stop erratic heart rhythms.

CPR/AED Health Trainer Patience Iortim, at the American Red Cross National Capital Area Chapter, shows a class how to correctly attach the pads from an automated external defibrillator (AED) device to a fallen person.
CPR/AED Health Trainer Patience Iortim, at the American Red Cross National Capital Area Chapter, shows a class how to correctly attach the pads from an automated external defibrillator (AED) device to a fallen person.
Photo Courtesy of Sharon J. Alfred, American Red Cross national headquarters.

Sadly, it all started when a well-respected community leader died on a park's tennis courts. His life might have been saved by the heart-regulating jolts delivered by an AED device, but the park didn't own one. Friend, a longtime American Red Cross volunteer, as well as a local board member, became dismayed when she found out about the lack of AEDs at this historical park. Prior to this incident, she had received AED training from the Red Cross' Mid-Atlantic Regional Office.

Later when Friend became a consultant to this park's management foundation, she immediately advised them to get an AED because "it could [maintain] someone's life until the city paramedics arrive." At that time (nearly 10 years ago), the park did not have sufficient funds to buy an AED machine. But, Friend was so convinced of the AED's medical necesssity that she "made a tax deductible contribution to the Oglebay Foundation (the foundation that governed the park's financial management) to cover the cost of an AED machine."

This was a selfless and generous gesture on her part, and it turned out to be a life-saving action as well. Because a few years later, that same AED machine was used to save the life of a guest presenter visiting the historical park. Even more ironically, the rescued man was the brother of one of the team members who had developed AED technology in the first place!

Bill Koegler at the Oglebay Foundation told Friend the ironic twist of the AED backstory. When she heard about the AED-related event story, she exclaimed, "It gave me chills that I had tangentially participated in saving a human life." She still proudly continues to serve on the board of her local Red Cross chapter, and still firmly believes in the importance of having AEDs on-site. Currently, the executive director of the Wheeling National Heritage Area, Friend was pleased to hear that this historical park now possesses several AED machines.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.


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