The Merrick Kiwanis Club has donated an automated external defibrillator to the North Merrick Public Library with the help of Merrick Kiwanis member Susan Helsinger, president of the Jason Gruen Foundation.
Presentation of the AED took place on Thursday evening at the library before members of the library and members of the library Board of Trustees.
“There are no AEDs in the local libraries,” Michael Reid announced to Your NewsMag, saying there was a “real gap” between the libraries and the schools in being able to help someone suffering from sudden heart seizure. An AED provides a life-saving electrical jolt to those experiencing otherwise-fatal sudden heart arrhythmias.
Susan Helsinger, at left, is joined by North Merrick Public Library Director Tom Witt, Michael Reid, Kim Sharoff, president of the Merrick Kiwanis, Bill Pezzulo, library board of trustees president, and members of the board of trustees.
Reid, a firefighter and paramedic for the Merrick Fire Department and EMS instructor for the North Shore-LIJ Hospital System, said the idea to place defibrillators in the local libraries – Merrick Library will receive one in March – had been about a year in the making. He said the need was first identified by Past-President Marty Valk, and the project was carried out under current President Kim Scharoff.
“Once the club determined it was something that should be done, we began fundraising efforts” to raise revenue that could both acquire the AEDs and train personnel to use them, Reid continued.
Reid maintained that two AEDs would cost roughly $4000 – $2000 per library – with training for 12 employees at each library, at $100 to train, bringing the cost to around $6000.
With February being Heart Month, and the Kiwanis club known for being the “club with a heart,” it made sense to donate the AEDs during February, Reid said. He added that the mission of the Merrick Kiwanis was indeed to provide the benefits of both CPR and AEDs to all the residents of the Merricks.
Bill Pezzulo, president of the Board of Trustees, said the donation of the AED was ‘wonderful,” because it would protect the patrons and other community residents who come to use the library, which he called a “very community oriented place.”
Meanwhile, as president of the Jason Gruen Foundation, Helsinger has helped diagnose heart issues in young students in the district to enable them to receive treatment to eradicate or reverse the symptoms.
The foundation was formed in memory of her son Jason, who died suddenly of cardiac arrest from an otherwise undetected heart ailment. The foundation works with area hospitals and local schools to test young students for heart irregularities. If irregularities are detected, they can be treated to save the life of the student as he or she grows into adulthood.
Merrick Library staff will complete their CPR training on March 19, and an AED will be presented by the Merrick Kiwanis Club to the library soon after.