Risco, MO referee stresses importance of AED machines after heart attack

RISCO, MO (KFVS) – Original Post

A sudden heart attack.

It could happen at any time. But if it happens to you, will the equipment needed to save your life be available?

Earlier this year a referee at a Risco, MO basketball game collapsed.

Thanks to fast acting members of the community, and a portable defibrillator he is getting a second chance at life.

“I was thinking about I hope I make it,” Jenkins said.

For 17 years Donnie Jenkins walked through the gym doors, but last February, he was carried out.

“There was almost about four minutes where I didn’t have a pulse,” Jenkins said.

In those four minutes, a young boy ran for help and a group of volunteers started saving his life with the help of an Automated External Defibrillator.

“I thought I hung the phone up, and the next thing I know I came to and there’s a lot of people standing over the top of me,” Jenkins said.

He had no clue what he was dealing with.

“I had three blocked arteries. Two of them were at 100 percent blockage, and one was at 98,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said when he looks back on the idea that he may not have been alive for four minutes, he has only one explanation.

“First I had to thank God, thank the people that had come to my aid, you know, and like I said, Risco had the machine. They had it right there in the gym, so everything was a help just right there,” Jenkins said.

It’s a machine they aren’t required to have.

Only 17 states require AED machines in public schools, but, most public schools in southeast Missouri have them, and those that didn’t, took Jenkins’ story as a call to action.

Clarkton High School tried to get funding several times.

“Each time we applied through a wellness grant, and we were unable to receive the funds,” said Clarkton Principal Dustin Ferguson.

Ferguson has known Jenkins for years.

“To think that at the school district we would have the power to help that man and we didn’t have that resource, it opened our eyes,” Ferguson said.

Without AEDs being required, it leaves small schools like Clarkton searching for grants.

The machines can cost anywhere from $1,200 to $1,700.

Not to mention they require training, and the cost of replacement batteries.

Those batteries can range from $200 to $400, and need to be replaced every five years.

Jenkins said he believes an AED should be in every school.

“After that experience I think every school needs one. Needs one or two, you know, in the areas that they have a lot of people there,” Jenkins said.

We contacted locations across southeast Missouri to see where you can find AEDs.

We were able to confirm there is one in the Cape Girardeau Library.

You can find them at most malls, water parks and recreation complexes, but some still don’t have them.

If you’re concerned, you’ll need to ask to be sure.

Jenkins said looking back and knowing Risco High School had the AED is incredibly meaningful.

“It made me feel pretty good about Risco, and they care about people, so you know, they had it, and it made me feel pretty good,” Jenkins said.

Today, he is doing much better.

“After surgery and everything I realized I can tell a difference where something was going wrong because I could tell the difference by my breathing,” Jenkins said.

He’s not back on the court yet, but hopes to pick up some games this summer.

Jenkins said when he does, he’ll know where to find the machine that helped save his life.

“You never know when somebody has one, you’ve got people coming to ball games, you know, from the ages of two to seventy, eighty years old, so you never know what’s going to happen,” Jenkins said.

Anyone who uses an AED needs to be certified.

The American Red Cross offers a combined class for CPR and AED.

It costs a little more than $100 per person.

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