The retiring head of the Normal-based Illinois Heart and Lung Foundation says the organization has done a lot to make defibrillators available throughout the community and educate people on how to use them, but she hopes it's only a start.
Executive Director Kathi Franklin said she has seen the AEDs save lives, including the case of Kai Bates-Diop, a University High basketball player who collapsed on the court during a practice before two school trainers used an on-site AED to restart his heart.
“But then there’s also lives lost when the AED (automated external defibrillators) hasn’t been used,” Franklin recalls. “The story is improving, the outcomes are improving, but we have a lot more to do.”
The foundation has distributed 149 AEDs throughout McLean County since it launched Operation Revive in 2013. IHLF raised nearly $246,000 to pay for the devices.
It provided AEDs to 10 McLean County high schools in 2018 and plans to supply the devices to three more schools this year.
Franklin said education remains a concern for ensuring the public knows where to find and how to use the AEDs in a potentially life-saving situation. IHLF works to ensure that each of the devices in the community are registered and working through a company called Cardio Partners. It has also assisted non-profit agencies with replacement batteries and pads as needed.
The foundation is promoting a mobile app called Pulse Point AED. It will show you where you can find the nearest defibrillator.
Franklin plans to retire April 11. She has served as executive director since November 2004.
Women’s Health Night revamp
One of Bloomington-Normal's longest running health events is being shifted with a goal to help more people.
IHLF is shifting its annual women's health night after a 20-year run into a family health expo.
Franklin said the foundation wants to involve more men and children.
“We also want to change the lives, or change the health habits in a whole family, so we have children working with their parents and they are all staying healthy and becoming healthier together,” Franklin says.
Women's health night attendance had declined in recent years, but Franklin notes the free event was still drawing about 1,500 visitors.
The expo will be April 2 from 3-7 p.m. at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Shirk Center in Bloomington.
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