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Amish donate 2 defibrillators to St. Ignatius

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ST. IGNATIUS – Two life-saving machines were installed in town thanks to fundraising efforts from the Amish Youth Group.

The Automated External Defibrillators, AED for short, were placed at the St. Ignatius Senior Center and Rod’s Harvest Foods to aid in life-saving efforts for anyone experiencing cardiac arrest. 

“We wanted to put them in high traffic areas,” said Emergency Medical Technician Gwen Couture. “And the schools already have them.”

An AED is a life-saving tool used with cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) when someone is not responsive. It is stored in a small box on the wall. The machine, inside the box, has two pads connected to a cord. 

“When you take it out of the case and put the pads on someone, the machine will analyze the patient,” she said. 

In an emergency, it can be hard to figure out how to use something new, so the machine comes with step-by-step instructions. “A voice from the machine will walk you through it,” she said. 

The machine can deliver an electric shock through the chest to the patient’s heart to restore normal rhythm, and it can’t be used incorrectly.

“The machine won’t shock someone if the person is not going to benefit from it,” she said.

As a trained emergency medical responder, Couture can attest to the fact that AEDs help save lives. She said that the first five minutes of a cardiac event are critical, which is when bystanders can help a person before the ambulance has time to arrive. 

According to Montana Heart Rescue, Gallatin County, Montana, has seen an increase in patient survival after they started using the machines; with bystander intervention, including AED and/or CPR, survivability increased to 80 percent.

“Using an AED within the first few moments of cardiac arrest greatly increases the chances someone will survive,” they stated.

The Amish Youth Group, comprised of people from the ages of about 16 to 30, paid around $2,000 for each machine with funds raised from an auction and breakfast they held on April 8.

“Local businesses donated items and others donated work days,” said Jeffrey Borntrager, event organizer and group member.

He said the group raised about $16,000 this year. Part of the money was donated to a local cause, which was the AED project this year, and another portion of the funds goes to another project to help people struggling to rebuild homes destroyed by forest fires. Last year, the group helped build a home in Hamilton and three small homes in Washington.

This is the third year the group has raised funds to donate to a local cause and the rebuilding project. In years past, they donated money to the Mission Valley Ambulance Service to help purchase a new ambulance. For the local half of their fundraising efforts, they try to pick a project that will benefit everyone. 

“We want to do something positive for the community, and inspire people to do the same,” he said. “This is something anyone can do.”

The group plans to hold another fundraising auction and find another community project next year. 

Emergency response teams in St. Ignatius plan to hold several free AED/CPR training classes in the next three months. Times and dates are not yet set. AED training events will also be held during the Good Old Days summer celebration on July 22. More information will be posted on the Mission Valley Ambulance Facebook page. Couture said the team wants the community to know what to do in an emergency so they can help others.

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