A local youth football organization and the Upper Arlington Community Foundation recently teamed to make Northam Park the second one in the city outfitted with a life-saving device.
On Sept. 27, members of the Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Department held a dedication ceremony at Northam Park, 2070 Northam Road, to unveil an automated external defibrillator at the block house located in the center of the park.
The AED was donated to the city by Upper Arlington Youth Football and the Upper Arlington Community Foundation, with each group chipping in $2,500.
The first AED in a city park was installed at Northwest Kiwanis Park in 2019 after 2018 Upper Arlington High School graduate Kevin McClanahan and the Northwest Kiwanis Club donated about $4,700 for the device.
AEDs are used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.
According to the American Red Cross, an AED is "a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use, medical device that can analyze the heart's rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock -- or defibrillation -- to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm."
UAYF has about 230 participants in its tackle program for students in grades three through eight and approximately 200 more in its flag program for pre-kindergarten through second grade, according to the group's president, Mike Fitzpatrick.
He said UAYF practices and plays its games at Northam and was interested in bringing an AED to the park to enhance the well-being of all who take part in the program on and off the field.
"Our league is committed to the safety of our players, coaches, referees and fans," Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick added that the league funded its half of the AED project, but players have been raising money for various community-service initiatives in recent years.
"Our kids are actively raising money for Nationwide Children's Hospital's Behavioral Health initiative and our corporate sponsors helped us raise money -- and buy pink socks -- for Families with a Cure that supports families in our community fighting cancer," he said. "We are blessed to have an amazing group of young men that are having fun playing with their teammates, learning the fundamentals of this great sport and building friendships, character and work ethic that will last a lifetime."
Likewise, UACF Executive Director Tracy Harbold said her organization is excited to assist with the project.
"The UACF provided a matching grant of $2,500 to finalize funding for this AED at Northam," Harbold said. "Safety in our community is one of our major areas of support."
According to Matt Leber, Upper Arlington recreation superintendent, there are eight city-owned structures outfitted with AEDs. He said the devices are maintained seasonally at each of the city's three swimming pools and the Northam tennis courts, and they're kept year-round at the Amelita Mirolo Barn, the Municipal Services Center, the Public Services Center and Fire Station 72.
Additionally, Leber said, there is an AED at the Upper Arlington Public Library's main branch, and there are two AEDs at the Upper Arlington Senior Center.
"The city installed its first public-access AED at the senior center in April 2001," he said.
"We installed the AED at Northwest Kiwanis Park in April of 2019. Northam Park is our second park with this AED and (protective) cabinet.
"Having the AED in place gives park users a tool to help a park user in need who may experience a cardiac event," he said.
In addition to signs on the Northam AED cabinet with instructions for how to use the device, the Upper Arlington Fire Division's CARES program offers CPR and AED training to anyone interested in learning more about using AEDs in emergency situations, Leber said.
He said city officials are hopeful the number of AEDs in public places could grow in the near future.
"We are grateful and appreciative that the Upper Arlington Youth Football Association and the Upper Arlington Community Foundation came together to fund the AED in Northam Park," Leber said. "The community athletics organizations in Upper Arlington and others have expressed interest in helping fund the purchase of AEDs and the cabinets in other parks.
"We hope to add them to other parks in the future."