Permanent stations for automatic external defibrillators could be installed by mid-June at the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex.
Greg Harrison, chairman of the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex Commission, said June 2 that he had received an update from Gray's Army Foundation about an effort to launch an AED PAD (publicly accessible defibrillators) initiative in parks, recreation facilities and other public places in Union County.
GAF is a Louisiana-based nonprofit organization that is working to help parents, coaches, teachers and students learn how to recognize signs and symptoms of and prevent death from sudden cardiac arrest, particularly in children and young adults.
The organization was founded by El Dorado native Michelle Temple and her husband Dale in honor of their 16-year-old son Grayson, who died in December of 2021 due to an undetected cardiac arrhythmia.
Grayson was an athlete and an avid outdoorsman.
In early March, Michelle met with members of the EUCRCC about starting an AED PAD initiative locally, saying that the recreation complex on Champagnolle Road was one of the sites GAF had considered for the program.
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 has swelled in Union County and GAF has held fundraisers, received donations and been awarded a mini-grant from United Way of Union County to assist with purchasing AEDs.
In April, GAF donated an AED to Beech Springs Camp in Smackover.
Temple also announced then that the group had raised enough money to purchase and install three AEDs and cabinets at the recreation complex.
On June 2, Harrison said he received word that the units have been ordered and are expected to be shipped this week.
The AED units will come with a heating and cooling system and will be made 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, said Harrison.
In the meantime, a temporary AED is being kept inside a storage building on the north side of the complex, Harrison announced.
"I feel like the public needs to be made aware," Commissioner Chris Nale said.
Commissioner Frank Hash agreed, saying, "Are we going to get some signs up? A lot of coaches have resuscitation training but knowing about this piece of equipment is vital. If no one knows about this piece of equipment or where it's at, it would be tragic."
Hash, who also serves on the El Dorado City Council, suggested that the group create information, or fact, sheets about the AEDs and distribute the sheets to visitors at the complex.
"I think when we have tournaments, we can have them for every game and put them up in the dugouts," Nale said.
David Lee, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado -- who manages the complex, per a contract with the city --, said the club will immediately draft an information sheet for the temporary AED.
Harrison said GAF plans to provide training for the AEDs once the permanent units are installed at the complex.
Michelle previously said the complex can take precautions to guard against theft and tampering with the life-saving devices.
During a regular EUCRCC meeting on March 3, she demonstrated how an AED works, using a device that provided automated instructions.
"Anyone can use it. You don't need medical training. You turn it on and it tells you what to do," she said.
Hash inquired about the liability of using the AEDs during a medical emergency and Michelle and complex Commissioner Keith Smith said citizens are covered under the state's 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," according to Arkansas Code 20-13-1305.
Michelle, an LPN with a background in home health and rehab nursing. also said 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.
On June 2, Harrison told complex commissioners that a donation has been made to GAF in memory of the late Kerry Murphree, an advanced practice registered nurse who died in November of 2021 after a battle with breast cancer.
Murphree worked for Interfaith Health Clinic, a nonprofit that offers affordable healthcare services to low-income residents Union County.
Known for her "service to the community and excellence in clinical practice," Murphree was named the 2021 Arkansas Nurse Practitioner Association Outstanding Nurse Practitioner.
"(GAF is) also a finalist for a $10,000 grant here in Union County. If they get it, it would allow them to purchase more AEDs, 10 to 14, and place them throughout the county," Harrison said.