Nonprofit works to bring more AEDs to public spaces

Updated: October 17, 2019 06:14 PM

A Minnesota nonprofit wants to make it easier to save people who are having a medical emergency.

Advocates for Health is doing this by putting AEDs in more public spaces.

Mike Canfield has been a referee for 41 years, but at Kimball High School just two weeks ago, the game wasn't the focus.

"I was refereeing a JV football game and I went to hand the ball to the kicker and that's all I remember," Canfield said. 

The 71-year-old suffered cardiac arrest, and parents and medical personnel rushed to him on the field.

"When I came to of course they were loading me into the ambulance," Canfield said. 

Canfield survived thanks in large part to the AED located inside the school.

"It saved my life," Canfield said. 

But what if Canfield's cardiac arrest happened when he was out for a walk? Or what if nobody had the key to the building to get the AED? Now Advocates for Health is trying to solve this problem. 

"What we wanted was something that was accessible 24/7 365 days a year," said Rich Feneis, founder of Advocates for Health. 

After a successul pilot program and some grant money, they're installing 49 SaveStations in all sorts of public spaces around central Minnesota including parks and neighborhoods. 

Minnesota high school referee recovering after suffering heart attack on football field

"There is a need everywhere," Feneis said. 

According to Feneis, the American Heart Association recommends a 3 minute response time after a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

"For every minute passed 3 minutes your chance of survival is reduced by 10%," Feneis said. 

That's why he believes this technology is too important to not be accessible in more areas, and he says it's easy for anyone to use. 

"Press the button, it talks you through the whole thing," Feneis said. 

"After this I think it's a necessity," Canfield said. 

Canfield is all for seeing more AEDs around town. As for his plans, he says it's time to retire from refereeing, and focus on his golf game.

"I'm feeling great just to be alive," Canfield said. "You never think about how great life really is until you almost aren't here."

Advocates for Health is currently working on expansion plans to other parts of the state. 

For more information on how to get a SaveStation in your community or to donate visit this link

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Brett Hoffland

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