FENNVILLE, Mich. — A West Michigan city is working on becoming a "heart-safe" community. It's to honor a high school basketball player who passed away from cardiac arrest during a game around 10 years ago.
Fennville Area Fire Department is hoping to install two AEDs throughout the city in case of medical emergencies.
"This just gets a very vital piece of equipment into the public’s hand quicker," said Fennville Area Fire Department Firefighter/EMT Robert Rivait.
An AED wasn't available soon enough when Fennville High School basketball player Wes Leonard collapsed during a 2011 game from sudden cardiac arrest.
"If we can get someone to start CPR and get an AED on somebody within two minutes, we have a better chance at bringing them back to life," said Fennville Area Fire Department Fire Chief Paul Hapke.
"That is what we are working towards, a heart-safe community. I think we are pretty close. Once we get these AEDs installed, we will be," said Fennville Police Department Police Chief Greg Rekucki.
The fire department is working in partnership with the police department. Both departments are making it their mission to continue what the Wes Leonard Foundation did when they put AEDs in schools.
The two AEDs were donated by private citizens, but the fire department needs to raise money to install them.
"What we are raising money for is the cabinets that we need for the AEDs because they are heat controlled for the winter and also air conditioned for the summer. That way the equipment doesn’t get damaged," said Rivait.
The cabinets also take a photo when opened and automatically dials 911.
To install both and wire them in, it will cost a total of $3,500.
"We’re getting the AEDs in the community, making it 24-hour access. We will put one of the police department and the other on a business that hasn’t been determined yet farther to the east with a little bit of distance from the police department," said Police Chief Rekucki.
The fire department said they're hoping to have both machines installed downtown by June 24 when they will be holding their circus.
If you are interested in donating, all money goes to the Fennville Firefighter's Fund at the Fennville Fire Deparment. You can donate by bringing cash or a check to 599 W. Fennville Street in Fennville.
The fire department said if they don't raise enough money by June 24, the day of their circus event, they will use some of the money made to purchase and install the boxes. Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for children if you purchase them in advance. The shows will run at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.