WHITEHALL TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — After a group of pickleball players saved one of their own when he collapsed in cardiac arrest last year, they realized they needed to do more to prevent a future death.
On Tuesday, a yearlong effort paid off when they were given an automated external defibrillator, more commonly referred to as an AED, for use on their court.
Getting an AED was a good idea but it wasn’t easy. There were a number of stops and starts along the way. The tenacity of one of the players got the job done.
“I was really determined to do this,” Mary Johnson, a pickleball regular at the Durham Road Courts in Whitehall Township, said. “I felt this particular age group needs to be protected in situations that they cannot control.”
In July 2020, as other players took part in their morning rounds, Lyn Grant went down with a heart attack. Fellow players with CPR training jumped in and saved his life. He has since recovered.
But Johnson worried: What if someone with CPR training wasn’t there the next time? The answer was an AED.
“And thank goodness for this equipment that can so much enhance the results of having a heart event,” Johnson said.
With the support of the group, she began her search. She found getting a donation of one of the $2,500 devices wasn’t easy, but she didn’t give up. Mercy Health Muskegon eventually helped connect her with Michigan-based Health Alliance Plan. It stepped up, providing and AED and a locked alarm box to be placed at the courts.
“As soon as one of our health partners, such as Mercy, reached out to us, we just really wanted to jump all over the opportunity to give back to the communities we serve,” HAP’s Kyle Ingraham said.
It’s one thing to have the machine but someone also needs to know how to use it. Players lined up to be ready. So far, 30 people have trained on the AED and more are expected to train down the road.
“It’s a village of people that really enjoy the sport and enjoy being healthy, snd I think that speaks volumes,” Johnson said.