Posted on 05/13/2008

May 13, 2008 – HUMESTON, IA ­– Students, staff, and visitors at any school building in Wayne County, Iowa, are now a little more protected from the number-one killer of Americans--sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)---and soon all the citizens of Wayne County in rural south central Iowa will be a little safer.

After Butch Gibbs of Humeston suffered SCA in his home on April 2, 2004, and was saved by his wife, Susie’s immediate start of CPR and the quick arrival of the Humeston First Responders with their automated external defibrillator (AED), the couple began promoting the use of CPR and AEDs. 

There has to be a reason I survived,” said Butch Gibbs, “and I believe that reason is to spread awareness of sudden cardiac arrest and the importance of knowing how to do CPR and how to use an AED so that others may have the same chance I did.”

Butch and Susie are no strangers to an AED.  They are Co-Presidents of the group that helped save Butch’s life--the Humeston First Responders.  In addition, Susie is a Registered Nurse who works full-time in the Emergency Room of the Lucas County Health Center in Chariton, both are American Heart Association-certified CPR Instructors, and eight months earlier, both helped the Humeston First Responders save the life of another Humeston man.

In 2005, the Gibbs’s helped the Mormon Trail Community School, their local district, in obtaining grants to place three AEDs in the school.

Following the deaths of a 13-year-old student and a 30-year-old teacher at separate schools in Iowa in January, 2006, the couple decided AEDs should be in every school in their county.

After receiving favorable reaction from administrators in the Lineville-Clio, Seymour, and Wayne Community school districts, they accepted donations from businesses and individuals, sold pizzas from an Iowa-based convenience store chain, demonstrated the AED at different town celebrations in the county, and obtained several grants from area and state organizations.

A group of students at Seymour and Wayne Community called SHINE, who make grants possible for school-related projects in the two districts, awarded us one of the grants,” said Susie Gibbs.  “It was great to see the kids recognize the importance of an AED.”

The nearly $10,000 raised also made it possible for staff at each school to be trained in CPR and how to use an AED.  Butch and Susie trained the staff at Lineville-Clio in May and the staffs at Seymour and Wayne the week before classes began in August.  Mormon Trail, who has had their AEDs two years, was re-certified the same week.”

The AEDs will not guarantee saving the life of a sudden cardiac arrest victim,” commented Butch Gibbs, “but at least they will have a chance.”

Following the school project, Butch and Susie decided their next effort would be to get AEDs for all the patrol cars of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office.

Following Butch’s sudden cardiac arrest four years ago, Wayne County Emergency Manager Bill Yeager obtained money for three AEDs to put in three of the Sheriff's six cars and in the courthouse.

The Rochester, Minnesota Police have shown how important it is for patrol cars to carry AEDs,” said Butch Gibbs.  “A lot of the time, a deputy on routine patrol is nearer to an ambulance call than the ambulance.”

A matching grant through the Iowa Department of Public Health EMS Bureau was awarded for four AEDs--three to go in patrol cars and one to be placed in the Sheriff’s Office/County Jail where Butch is employed as a Dispatcher and Jailer. 

In addition to the schools, courthouse and Sheriff’s Office, the Wayne County Ambulance and four non-transport EMS units in the county are now equipped--or soon will be--with AEDs.

 Hopefully, the life-saving devices will be in place in the Sheriff’s cars by the end of the summer.