Activities have wound down for the year at the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex and when the busy season ramps back up next spring, it will be the first full season with newly installed life-saving devices at the Champagnolle Road facility.
For the better part of the year, Gray's Army Foundation, a Louisiana-based nonprofit organization, has worked with the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex Commission, area businesses and residents to place three automated external defibrillator (AEDs) stations at the complex.
Donations and fundraisers totaling $7,500 culminated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony that was held last month for the initiative.
GAF was founded by El Dorado native Michelle Temple and her husband Dale in honor of their 16-year-old son Grayson, an athlete and avid outdoorsman who died in December of 2021 due to an undetected cardiac arrhythmia.
In early March, Michelle met with members of the EUCRCC about starting an AED publicly-accessible defibrillator (PAD) initiative locally, saying that the recreation complex on Champagnolle Road was one of the area sites that GAF had considered for the program in Union County.
Days later, a public meeting was held with GAF, El Dorado and Union County municipal officials, local health care professionals, emergency medical workers, coaches, educators, a sales manager for ZOLL Medical, a manufacturer of AEDs, and more.
Support for the initiative swelled throughout the county.
GAF held fundraisers, received donations and was awarded a mini-grant from United Way of Union County to assist with purchasing AEDs, which are available for public use at the complex.
Thousands of people flow into the complex each year for athletic games and practices.
The complex has fields for baseball, softball, soccer and football and while the fields are largely used for youth sports, they also host adult athletic leagues.
Athletics often involve strenuous activity and with the installation of the AEDs, a person's chance for survival is greatly increased in the event of a cardiac arrest, according to a press release from GAF.
The AED SaveStations came with temperature-controlled boxes and are available for public use at the eight softball and baseball fields (fields 1 - 4 on the north side of the complex and fields 5 - 8 on the south) and the two soccer fields that are also on the south end of the complex.
In April, GAF donated an AED to Beech Springs Camp in Smackover and the group said there are plans to install AEDs in other parks, recreational facilities and other such public spaces in Union County.
"Providing AEDs in parks is another way we can support our residents and athletes and provide a new level of service for the park visitors," Michelle said.
She thanked groups and individuals who contributed to the effort, including Adam Robertson of Joe's Grocery; Code 3 Services; Glenn Mechanical; Sports Alley; Diamond Nutrition; Subway; Brookshire's; First Financial Bank; Wildcat Recycling; Roger Mattei of ZOLL; and Justin Murphree, who made a donation in memory of his wife, the late Kerry Murphree, an advanced practice registered nurse who died in November of 2021 after a battle with breast cancer.
"We would like to thank (the contributors) for their generous contributions and support of our health, wellness and safety," Michelle said.
The device provides automated instructions for users.
According to Arkansas Code 20-13-1305, also known as the Good Samaritan law, anyone "who offers emergency care in good faith to a person who is suffering or appears to be suffering from (sudden cardiac arrest) is immune from civil liability."
Michelle, an LPN with a background in home health and rehab nursing, previously told members of the complex commission that if a medical professional identifies himself as such while offering assistance during a medical emergency, he is no longer protected by the Good Samaritan law.
AED/CPR classes are available through GAF, ProMed Ambulance, SouthArk, the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross.
For more information, call GAF at 225-788-0021 or visit www.graysarmyfoundation.org.