(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
A grant through the Statewide Rural AED (Automatic External Defibrillators) Coalition has provided the Leachville area with two new AED machines.
Teresa Johnson, coordinator for the Leachville First Responders, and Chief of Police Ken Womack wrote a grant application for the equipment in December on behalf of the fire department and First Responders.
"We requested three AEDs and were awarded two," Johnson said. "We are pleased to receive the two. Leachville received one through Mississippi County about eight years ago and we have used it several times."
Chief Womack said it has been used more in the last year and a half than ever before.
The older one was refurbished and is a much larger machine to carry than the two new compact machines.
"The new machines are simple to use," Womack said. "They actually talk to you and give step by step instructions. Even an untrained person could probably be able to use one in an emergency situation. If you look around, AEDs are sometimes placed along the walls at airports, malls, gymnasiums and other places where they could be utilized."
Leachville's First Responders are trained in using the AEDs and a training officer is coming to Leachville to train all members of the fire department.
"Our fire department includes members of our police department," Johnson said. "The police department, fire department and first responders work together in all emergency situations."
Johnson said they applied for the grant to improve the health care in the community.
"Our closest hospital is between 25 and 30 minutes away and we do not have an ambulance service in our city limits," Johnson said.
In the grant application Johnson and Womack stressed their coalition's dedication and commitment to using the AED's properly.
"We had to meet the requirements to qualify for the 100 percent grant," Johnson said.
The AEDs were picked up on Sept. 14 in Little Rock.
Each time the equipment is used, a report must be sent to Section of EMS and Trauma Systems of Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services.
Leachville has 22 firefighters including the police officers and nine First Responders including one police officer. They are all volunteers.
Richmond Pace serves as fire chief and Mark Johnson is assistant fire chief.
"The statewide rural AED coalition has a goal to have AEDs in every fire department and in the hands of every First Responder," Johnson said. "We were told we could apply for additional AEDs next year, and we will."
They said they are also planning to apply for a grant to start a junior fire fighter program in Leachville.