ELKHART — With the help of new medical devices, Dr. Walter Halloran at Elkhart General Hospital hopes law enforcement agencies, schools and nonprofit groups can help save lives one heartbeat at a time.
Halloran, a cardiothoracic surgeon, created HeartReach Michiana in 2004 to buy and distribute portable automated external defibrillator, or AED, kits used during cardiac arrest. Since then, Halloran’s nonprofit group has raised almost $630,000 through donations and an annual golf outing. More than 155 organizations in Indiana and Michigan have received 420 portable AED kits, including 54 new devices provided to 31 agencies Wednesday, Oct. 23.
“Right from the beginning, we identified that defibrillators were a sorely needed device that could be distributed to our communities for lifesaving use, and we’ve been doing it for nine years,” Halloran said.
Troy Pflugner, who works for AED manufacturer Cardiac Science, described cardiac arrest as a misfire of the heart’s activity resulting in an inefficient heartbeat. Following audio and text instructions included with the AED kit, a lifesaving shock can be delivered to stop the heart and allow it to restart on its own, he said.
“The longer someone is in cardiac arrest, the more difficult it is to bring them back and bring them back to a normal life, so having these first responders in your workplace, in your church or in your school is critical,” Pflugner said.
Halloran said HeartReach Michiana has a list of more than 40 agencies that have requested new AED kits.