By Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor
Peter Kates hopes the Automated External Defibrillators he helps his employer provide to police agencies, nonprofits and other organizations will never need to be used.
He also knows that they have figured into at least two life-or-death cases.
“About a year and a half ago, a very prominent gentleman in Wyoming County collapsed and died in Warsaw on the street,” said Kates, vice president of communications for Univera Healthcare and subject of today’s In the Field feature in WNY Refresh. “I got a very nice note from the undersheriff saying that with the AED we donated, at least they had a chance (to try to save him).
“Also, a year ago, one of my colleagues was down in Chautauqua County visiting his in-laws at their summer camp along the lake. He was out jogging along a deserted road and came across a jogger who was down. He immediately started doing CPR and was able to flag somebody down to call the sheriff’s department. The deputy had an AED in the car and was able to bring the man back around. It wasn’t one of our AEDs, but the fact that we had donated 17 units to the department allowed them to have one in every car.”
During the last 13 years, Univera has donated 45 AEDs in its eight-county Western New York service territory.
“We donated three devices to the Boy Scouts, one for each of their camps and one with a portable case that they can take to Camporees,” Kates said. “Originally, we tried to place them where people gathered. We figured schools were pretty much taken care of. We approached the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Shea’s, the Darwin Martin House Complex, the downtown Naval and Military Park.
“One of the needed places is the Kids Escaping Drugs Renaissance Campus. We worked with Robin Kelso out there; that’s Mark Kelso’s wife. We approached them. ... Their clients have abused their bodies and are in a very compromised physical condition. We provided underwriting support so they could put two units on their campus. A year later, we provided three units to their adult rehab sites in the city of Buffalo.
To a place, everyone we approached said, ‘Wow, that’s been on our wish list for years but we didn’t have the budget to be able to purchase one.’”
Kates works with a team that includes Art Wingerter, Univera president, to determine what groups to approach about an AED.
“Some of the places we get requests from would be well served from a first responder nearby, so we try to focus on places that might not be able to afford one or might be out of the way, where it might be harder for a first responder to get there.
Univera provides funding, usually about $2,500, and connects those receiving the life-saving devices with Philips, its AED distributor, which does a needs analysis and sets them up with what they need.
“It is a device groups are going to have to maintain over the years,” Kates said. “They are going to have keep it in working order and maintain it with fresh supplies going forward. They have a stake in this. The worse thing that could ever happen is that in a crisis, they would grab it and find that the battery’s dead or the pads have expired.”