Sentara gives AED training for Hampton Roads churches

Published 8:12 pm Thursday, July 13, 2023

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Sentara Health is helping faith-based organizations in the Hampton Roads region add an element of safety for their members with the donation of 100 Automatic External Defibrillator devices.

The AEDs can save members who are attending their church services if they suffer cardiac arrest and are awaiting the arrival of Emergency Medical Service personnel.

To help them be ready to use the devices, Sentara and Rising Saint James Pentecostal Holiness Church provided training for church members and leaders Monday, July 10. 

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Zoll Medical Corp. Channel Partner Manager Danielle Santucci showed those attending how to operate their AED units and answered questions from the public on their operation.

Following the training, Santucci explained how the collaboration between Sentara and Zoll came about to help the community with cardiac arrest issues. She also noted increased awareness of the issue after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s survival of cardiac arrest.

“They wanted to provide AEDs out into their community,” she said. “So they reached out to us, we did a demonstration for them and they decided on the AED Plus.”

A key part in making this collaboration happen was Girl On Fire Outreach Ministries, a nonprofit ministry. The ministry’s evangelist and founder Sarah P. Knight said Sentara and GOFOM are frequent collaborators in providing assistance to the Hampton Roads community, adding it is “vital” to have their work go beyond the church doors.

“The collaboration allowed those present to be able to receive first hand training on how to operate the equipment properly. Receiving the training as well as the equipment is a bonus as together, they provide [a] course of action should such a situation arise. This opportunity demonstrates how impactful joining forces together can be,” Knight said. “We’re saving lives spirituality as well as physically.”

Rising Saint James PHC Pastor Robert A. Wilkins commended Knight and GOFOM for making this collaboration possible.

“It was a great idea for them to extend their resources to us, to the body of Christ,” Wilkins said. “Partnering with them, it was good that they came to equip us as well as empower us to help those that we serve in another way.”

He said this shows that when the community comes together, church members and Suffolk residents are more effective in sharing information and resources that will benefit them all.

“A lot of times in the past, one faith-based entity would get the information and not position to share,” Wilkins said. “But reaching out to various denominations and faith-based ministries, it brings us closer together. To implore that we are in this together.”

Suffolk resident Rudean Harrell pointed out how important the new safety additions to the church were.

“People don’t realize what a blessing this is,” she said.

Resident Michelle Johnson also noted the importance of seeing the variety of churches coming together for the training.

“It’s amazing that the church and community can come together and [provide] our members healing, [and] peace of mind as we serve together,” she said.


Editor’s note: Updated sixth passage at 11:26 a.m. Monday, July 17 to reflect accuracy.