With the slogan ‘Make Westland Heartsafe’ the municipal department of HeartsafeLiving Westland is active. And immediately with a good result: in the first year at least three people survived a cardiac arrest thanks to neighborly assistance.
Arie Camfferman worked for seventeen years at the volunteer fire department in the Westland, Frenk van Wetering still has been working here. They know each other well but did not know from each other that they contacted on the same day, within two hours, with HeartsafeLiving to give neighborly assistance a boos in their municipality. Now they work together enthusiastically for HeartsafeLiving Westland.
“The first thing to do was to find volunteers,” says Frenk. The municipality provided HeartsafeLiving Westland data from First Aid associations and Arie called people of these associations. “We did that because you look for people with the same sense for neighborly assistance,” he explains.
The two initiators gathered enthusiastic people around them and two years after the establishment HeartsafeLiving Westland employs 240 neighborly assistants. That’s a lot but not enough, because they seek 350 to 400 volunteers in the municipality. They recruit them by distributing flyers that say “Sign up as a volunteer.”
“We see that a lot of people can resuscitate, but don’t want to be alerted,” says Frenk. “Our view is that there are many people who find it scary. Some are afraid of making mistakes, others are afraid to get into situations between life and death.”
HeartsafeLiving Westland chooses a local structure so that the volunteers know each other, thanks to the joint meetings. “Direct binding and short lines give neighborly assistants the feeling they can go somewhere with their story,” says Arie. “That they know each other and be there for each other.”
Simultaneously with recruiting volunteers HeartsafeLiving Westland started with setting up a network of AEDs for public use. Of the approximately 150 AEDs in the municipality there are 46 in the database of HeartsafeLiving now, among many companies. A remaining is that many AEDs are placed behind closed doors, and so only usable during opening hours of those companies.
“Protective cabinets are expensive and we don’t want to chase costs to sympathetic companie,” said Frenk. “Nevertheless, at strategic places 24/7 accessible AEDs need to be placed. Through various funds, we try to gather the money. A political party in Westland had even included it in the election.” That party is now the second largest in the municipality.
HeartsafeLiving also is committed to the awareness of neighborly assistance by professionals, such as the police and fire department. Thanks to the awareness – and recognizable green jackets of HeartsafeLiving Westland – neighborly assistants are recognized and acknowledged by officers and firefighters now. HeartsafeLiving has already achied a lot in this town. Frenk: “But we are not there yet, there is still a lot to gain.”