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Ask Deborah: Funding an AED

Deborah Patterson knows health ministry. As the executive director of Northwest Parish Nurse Ministries and author of Health Ministries: A Primer for Clergy and Congregations, she works daily with parish nurses, pastors, and health professionals. In this feature, she answers your most pressing or perplexing questions on health ministry. Are you hitting a roadblock with a program in your church? Are you wondering where to start with health ministry? Do you feel like you need a new idea on a specific topic? Ask Deborah!

QUESTION: We would like to get an AED for our congregation, but we know that they are quite expensive, and didn’t know if there was funding available to help fund its purchase. Could you please help us?

ANSWER: There are a variety of ways to local funding for an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED). You can get a portable AED, like most everything else, on or through Costco for about $1,200. But you might want to check with your local EMS office, fire department, American Red Cross office, or community education department at a local hospital for brands and sources they recommend. These community services also may be aware of grants available for the purchase of an AED in your area. Generally, an AED designed for use in a community setting would cost about two to three times as much as a home AED. You may also visit the websites of local or corporate foundations for grant guidelines. Some foundations, such as Medtronic’s, have funded the purchase of AEDs since their use is closely aligned with the corporate mission.

Some health committees have simply asked congregation members if someone would be willing to donate funds to purchase an AED. That is how Ruth William’s church, St. Mary’s in Richland Center, Wisconsin, got one—from an individual donor. Other congregations have raised funds through bake sales or drawings.

The National Center for Early Defibrillation has a helpful step-by-step planning guide to help you locate sufficient funding to acquire an AED for your organization. Their website states “that the first step is to estimate projected program costs.

Annual costs can include:

  • Devices (about $3,000 per unit; remember to divide initial cost by the projected life of the device, usually five years)
  • Peripheral equipment costs (about $75 per device)
  • Maintenance (about $100 per device)
  • Insurance (variable)
  • Training costs (variable: includes personnel and equipment)
  • Program management costs (variable)
  • Event documentation costs (variable)
  • Quality assurance tools (variable)
  • Community-wide CPR training (variable)”

They also point out that other sources of funding can include local corporations and industries, civic organizations, private foundations, public charities, and government grants.

After you have an AED in place, you will want to arrange for training. Most of the units are very user-friendly, but the training will give you much more information about use of the device with various age groups and situations. You can easily find training through the American Red Cross website.

The appropriate church leadership body will want to decide who should be trained—the health committee, the ushers, the professional staff, or all of the above. The training can also be expanded to include First Aid.

Red Cross training meets OSHA guidelines and many other professional standards. They also offer continuing education units (for a fee) which may be helpful for healthcare professionals in many states. Again, you will need to decide who will pay for the training and how to raise those funds.

The bottom line is that you just might save a life. And every life is worth saving!

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Deborah Patterson is here for you and your church. To send in a question to Deborah, send an email and write "Ask Deborah" in the subject line. Please include your first name and location.