The community can help Hardeeville's first responders continue to save lives.
The Hardeeville Fire Department, in partnership with Arrhythmia Alliance, is hosting a Heart & Soles 5K run/walk 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16.
Funds for the event will go toward acquiring automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for the city, including for all patrol cars and the fire department's administrative vehicles.
All of the city's fire engines and rescue vehicles and a few of its police cars have AEDs, Hardeeville Fire Marshal Joey Rowell said, but the goal is to have them in all vehicles and in publicly accessible areas.
"Having these readily available in public places, if someone suffers sudden cardiac arrest, the outcome is significantly better with these than with CPR alone," Rowell said.
The devices cost $1,400 to $1,500 each Rowell said. The goal is to raise enough money to purchase at least one AED, but Rowell said raising funds for more than one device "would be even better."
Hardeeville Mayor Harry Williams knows the importance of AEDs. The prompt use of one saved his life three years ago.
Williams was playing softball in Sun City when he ran after a ball in the outfield and collapsed.
He stopped breathing, but was saved by the quick use of an AED on site and CPR.
"CPR by experienced former EMTs did not revive my stilled heart," Williams said. "The AED did the trick. The next morning I was visited by the EMT who treated me in the ambulance and she told me that if the AED was not there, the outcome may not have been so happy."
Williams had a clogged left anterior descending (LAD) artery, called the "widowmaker" and the fast response time was crucial.
"The 'widowmaker' LAD artery is so dangerous because it is so sudden and, because of my fitness level, the symptoms were unrecognizable. Consider that every minute that passes, chances of survival reduce by 10 percent," Williams said. "That leaves 10 minutes to recognize the problem, make the call, and have emergency vehicles arrive. Having AEDs in all our first responder's vehicles increases the chances that a life or lives like mine will be saved in that critical 10-minute window. Each AED with pads costs less than $2,000. Is a life worth more than $2,000? I think so and so does the city of Hardeeville."
The 5K begins at Martin Street and will go along the downtown neighborhoods, through City Hall, around the Richard Gray Sports Complex, to Main Street and ends at Martin Street.
The early sign-up fee is $25. It is $35 the day of the event and $10 per child. Rowell said anyone is welcome to purchase an AED and donate it to the fire department.
For more information about the event and the #HardeevilleHeartsMatter campaign, call 843-415-1886.