When every minute counts …

You are having a heart attack! And if you live in Forks or the surrounding area, you know that we rely on our volunteer ambulance crews ......

You are having a heart attack! And if you live in Forks or the surrounding area, you know that we rely on our volunteer ambulance crews to drive from their homes to the ambulance shed at the hospital before they head out on the call. That five-minute drive can add a few more minutes to the response time and when you are having a heart attack minutes are your enemy.

For heart attack victims, every minute counts. Most people who die from a heart attack die within two hours of the first sign. Heart attacks occur when a coronary artery is blocked, preventing oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart. Every minute that the cardiac tissue goes without oxygen results in more damage.

You might be surprised to learn that when you are having your heart attack, in or around the community of Forks, the first person that probably will be at your front door is a Forks Police officer. They are already on duty, they may even be in your neighborhood when the 9-1-1 call comes in.

For this reason, Forks Community Hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer Laura Kripinski and Forks Community Hospital Director of Emergency Services Becky Wilson are on a mission to raise funds to provide devices called AEDs to each FPD vehicle.

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a patient, and is able to treat them through defibrillation, the application of electrical therapy which stops the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm.

With simple audio and visual commands, AEDs are designed to be simple to use for the layperson and the use of AEDs is taught in many first aid, certified first responder and basic life support (BLS) level cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) classes. This device is so smart it will not shock the patient if it is not needed.

Kripinski said, “I recently responded to a 9-1-1 call from my home; Forks Police Officer Todd Garcia was already on the scene, he did an amazing job. The FPD is so helpful they sit with the patients and we really appreciate them, they make a difference.”

“By having these AEDs in their vehicles, even more, lives could be saved,” Kripinski said that at least three lives have been saved recently thanks to the response of the FPD and who knows how many more people could be helped if the officers had the AED devices.

The initial goal is to purchase one device that could be shared with each on-duty officer, but having one for each vehicle would be the best. The cost is around $2,000 per device and Forks Hospital’s CEO Tim Cournyer made the first $100 donation.

Laci Johnson, FCH Compliance Officer/Community Care Coordinator, is coordinating the fundraising. Johnson has coordinated with Forks Outfitters and its 1 percent back program for nonprofits. Forks Outfitters receipts can be dropped off at the City of Forks or the hospital.

Anyone can make a donation deposit into the Forks Hospital Foundation at First Federal Savings, designate your donation for the AED program. Take a minute and think about how much a life is worth? Priceless …