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April 20, 2001   Email to Friend 

"ALFA GIVES $75,000 TO HELP VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS SAVE LIVES"
Jeff Helms
334-613-4212
April 20, 2001

"MONTGOMERY, Ala." Volunteer fire departments throughout Alabama soon will have access to life-saving technology thanks to a $75,000 donation from Alfa Insurance Co. and the Alabama Farmers Federation.

Alfa President Jerry Newby said the money will help purchase automatic external defibrillators that firefighters use to treat patients who are in cardiac arrest.

"When a person has a heart attack, prompt medical care can mean the difference between life and death," Newby said. "But in rural areas, volunteer firemen often have to wait for an ambulance to arrive before they can restore a patient's heart beat. With these machines, our rapid responders will be able to administer treatment as soon as they get to the scene."

Johnny Dennis, president of the Alabama Association of Volunteer Fire Departments, said Alfa's donation will go a long way toward helping the association achieve its goal of having a defibrillator in each of the state's almost 1,000 volunteer fire departments.

"These machines are great assets to volunteer fire departments," Dennis said. "If a fireman can get to a heart attack victim quickly enough, most have a good chance to survive and have a normal life span. But if we don't have defibrillators out in the rural areas, there's no way to bring them back--even if we get there quickly."

Alfa's contribution was part of a fund-raising program initiated by the Association of Volunteer Fire Departments called "Heart Start." Dennis said additional money to purchase defibrillators was provided by the Alabama Legislature, Alabama Power Co. and BellSouth. In the legislature, the Heart Start campaign was led by Senate Majority Leader Tom Butler, D-Madison, whose life was saved by an automatic defibrillator several years ago.

"These machines are used every day," Dennis said. "Just last week, a 26-year-old lady in Limestone County who was pregnant was brought back using a defibrillator."

Newby said Alfa's participation in the program is part of its ongoing commitment to the residents of rural Alabama.

"Alfa Insurance was founded 55 years ago because many of our rural families were having trouble finding affordable fire insurance coverage for their homes and barns," Newby said. "It gives me great pleasure to continue that legacy of service by helping provide our volunteer firefighters with the tools they need to save lives."

Dennis said each defibrillator costs about $2,600. Volunteer firemen must be trained and certified before they are allowed to use the equipment.


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