Jos Geverink (53) is a volunteer at HeartsafeLiving Laren-Noord since its launch in January 2013. He tells how HeartsafeLiving got off the ground in his region.
“Local residents thought about hanging up an AED in a local bar. They soon found out that just putting up an AED was not enough. You create an illusion of safety with that. We felt that more was needed to be done and soon we came out at HeartsafeLiving. An information meeting was arranged for local residents and two other neighborhood associations joined the project. Then we gathered a group together to set up the project.”
“We started sending a survey to residents in our area, an area of about 25 square kilometers. We wanted to know whether there was support for the project. There was support fortunately. We got almost only positive reactions.”
“The HeartsafeLiving working group proposed a budget for the training of volunteers, purchase of AEDs and cabinets to put in them. In order to get the money together, we were looking for sponsorship. We asked local entrepreneurs to contribute and we got a lot of responses. We also wrote to National Funds, including the Regional Cooperation Fund of Rabobank. This fund supports projects in their own area that are worthwhile. There we got a big sponsorship amount. Of our residents, we asked an initial donation and annual subscription fees.”
This money we want to use for the maintenance of AEDs and annual training of our volunteers. After a year, HeartsafeLiving Laren-Noord was operational. “We celebrated this with an opening ceremony, followed by a bike ride along all AEDs. So people could see where they hang and could see how we spent the money,” says Jos.
“The support among the population. People have stated that they wanted this in the beginning of the project, the AEDs in the region. And they made true what they said. At the very beginning, we have calculated that we needed eight AEDs in our area. Of these, five were given us, with no reason. Through our own efforts and the contributions of local residents and local business owners, we have all AEDs now. Regarding volunteers we are now at an average of almost one volunteer per household. People really care for HeartsafeLiving.”
“We experienced ourselves that setting up HeartsafeLiving in you own region, even in a rural area, is possible for anyone. You don’t need to do it alone. Call or email other regions where they have AEDs for advice, we did that too. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Anyone can get this done,” says Jos.