The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation in Jacksonville, Florida, has donated more than $400,000 to first responders in Kentucky alone, and recently the foundation awarded a $17,000 grant to Madison County EMS for up-to-date CPR equipment.
Firehouse Subs, a restaurant that opened 22 years ago in Florida decided to help out after Hurricane Katrina. The foundation was then conceived to help first responders by donating portions of its revenue back into the foundation. Now, all proceeds go toward new equipment for first responders throughout the country.
The new equipment includes six baby mannequins, six adult mannequins and a bluetooth device that monitors the pressure applied to the chest, whether the paramedic is giving the proper amount of air and the speed of chest compressions, for example.
New equipment was necessary for the EMS department after the American Heart Association started requiring a feedback system for CPR certifications so they know if they are doing it correctly. The department has also been using the same mannequins for around 15 years.
"We needed new mannequins; we just couldn't put the money into it right now, and Firehouse Subs has just been awesome," Ron Jackson, assistant director for Madison County EMS, said. "We just really think that this is a huge benefit to the community."
So far, the mannequins have been helpful, he explained.
"This is my 26th year in EMS, and I was thinking, you know, I'm pretty good at this," Jackson said. "But it showed me that there are things that I can improve on."
The new bluetooth device helps show paramedics and other first responders exactly what they are doing right and things that they can improve. It also gives each person a score. Because of the scoring system, Jackson said, the paramedics and fire departments have started a competition to see who can get the highest scores.
"They come in, and we all do it," he said. "We keep doing it, and that is good. We really like it and that it has turned into a competition."
Jackson stressed the importance of people in our community knowing how to perform CPR to be able to help the victim of a medical emergency until the ambulance arrives.
He said the EMS department offers classes to teach CPR, and community members can call them to schedule a class to learn. Next week, Jackson is teaching a group from the Teen Pregnancy Help Center, which he said is important for new moms to learn in case their baby were to choke.
"We want to get as many people certified as we can," he said. "This past year, we have certified almost 100 citizens in the community already."
Later he noted that community knowledge of CPR is important because with a county that has 440 square miles, Jackson said, there is no way paramedics can be in the whole county when someone goes into cardiac arrest.
Matt Roe, a franchisee with the foundation, said the grants are awarded on a need basis, and member of the foundation's board determine by members of the foundation's board -- including retired firefighters and police officers -- decide where the money will go. Last year, the foundation raised more than $2 million.
In applying for the grants, departments state their desired equipment, what they are going to use it for and why it is necessary for them to have, which the board will approve or deny.
"We are very proud of (the mannequins), and we are just so thankful," Jackson said. "I just can't tell you how thankful we are."
To schedule a CPR class with the Madison County EMS persons interested can call their office at 859-623-5121.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.