Church AED Save Stories

September 10, 2020 | Last Updated: July 27, 2021

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) can take place anytime, anywhere, and to anyone — no matter how young, old, or seemingly healthy they may be. When SCA happens, the strongest predictor of survival is whether the victim receives early defibrillation with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). (link to time-to-defib guide)

For churches and faith-based organizations, there are thousands of “save” stories about religious leaders, staff, congregants, and visitors who have gone into SCA at church and been saved by an AED. 

Below are just a few stories that demonstrate the importance of having an AED in church to save lives. If your faith-based organization isn’t already equipped with at least one AED, hopefully, after reading these stories, you will become a vocal advocate to change that!

Mark Sienkiewicz Saved by his Fellow Parishioners at Church
(St. Louis, MO)

In December of 2017, Mark Sienkiewicz and his wife — who are both devout supporters and frequent visitors of their church — were attending an evening Christmas program at St. Simon the Apostle Catholic Church to watch their grandson perform. During the program, without any warning, Mark suddenly collapsed and went into Sudden Cardiac Arrest. 

Four of his fellow parishioners, Meghan Harison, Kristen Larson, Denise Buehler, and Michele Snyder, noticed that Mark was in need of help. All of them, to some degree, had been trained in CPR/AED use, so they knew exactly what was happening and immediately took action. 

When recalling the emergency, Michele described their response as a “well-oiled machine.” She explained how the team of responders worked together: she removed his shirt, Kristen administered chest compressions, Meghan performed rescue breaths, and Denise retrieved the AED. With this coordinated response, the AED was able to deliver a life-saving shock to Mark in less than 3 minutes, which is as fast as it gets! By using the church AED, they were able to administer defibrillation before the paramedics even arrived 3-4 minutes later. 

Following the incident, a local cardiologist, Dr. Christopher Allen, was asked about the high cost of AEDs. He urged fellow faith-based organizations to find a way to purchase an AED, explaining that  “we’re talking about something [SCA] that’s nearly 100 percent fatal if untreated, so I’m not sure a dollar amount can replace that life.”

Read full story here. 

AED in Church Basketball Gym Saves a Life (St. Charles, IL)

Just like every other Saturday morning, Matt Krueger and his friends were playing basketball at Christ Community Church in St. Charles, IL. Everything seemed perfectly normal until one of the players, Ron Newman, noticed that Matt had collapsed on the court. 

Ron and his teammate, Demetrio Torress (an Illinois State Trooper who had been CPR/AED trained) immediately took action by performing CPR, while their other friend, Tim Sjostrom retrieved the AED from the gym wall. After only a couple of minutes, the AED was applied to Matt and a single life-saving shock was delivered. Shortly thereafter, he began to regain consciousness and speak — all before first responders arrived on scene. 

Just a week after the incident, Matt underwent a successful triple bypass surgery to correct problems related to his history of cardiac disease.

Referring to the importance of AEDs, Ron said, “you might see these things [AEDs] on the wall, you really don’t think twice about them. If they didn’t have that [AED] there, the outcome would’ve been terrible.”

For faith-based organizations that have athletic facilities on site, Matt’s “save” story is a great learning lesson. There’s always a chance that someone exercising or playing sports at your facility may, like Matt, be at high risk for SCA. Make sure everyone has a chance to survive from Sudden Cardiac Arrest by ensuring that your athletic facilities are equipped with AEDs.

Read full story here


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