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G-P Bucket Brigade fills a need
effingham fire check

Effingham Fire Rescue doesn’t have to look far back to find an example that a defibrillator can save a life.

About a month ago, according to Chief Clint Hodges, Effingham 911 received a call that a man on the south end of the county who was in full cardiac arrest. Fortunately, the nearby Meldrim fire station is equipped with an automated external defibrillator, a portable device that can send an electric shock to the heart to restore its normal rhythm.

First responders arrived at the man’s house “in about a minute,” Hodges said. They had the defibrillator in hand, and were able to revive him.

“There’s no way he would’ve lived if they hadn’t been fortunate that station had (a defibrillator),” Hodges said. “It saved a life. By the time they got him to the hospital, he was breathing on his own.”

Additional automated external defibrillators soon will be on the way to the county’s first responders, thanks to Georgia-Pacific’s Bucket Brigade program. G-P awarded Effingham Fire Rescue a $7,500 grant, which Hodges said will cover the cost of five defibrillators.

“This will allow us to have all our first-out medical response vehicles equipped with one,” he said. “Any step we can take to make the community safer, we’ll take it.”

The Guyton Volunteer Fire Department also was awarded a Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade grant, of $2,500. The funds will be put toward a thermal imaging camera and firefighting boots and gloves, according to Chief David Starling.

“We want to make sure our local firefighters have what they need to continue protecting and assisting our community when it’s needed most,” said Monty Brown, vice president of manufacturing at G-P’s Savannah River Mill.

This year, Georgia-Pacific awarded 50 grants totaling $235,500 to fire departments in 19 states. Since beginning the program in 2006, Georgia-Pacific reports giving more than $1.5 million to fire departments for equipment essential to the safety of firefighters and the communities they serve.

“Every year, we receive applications from hundreds of fire departments, often requesting very basic items to do their jobs,” said Jim Hannan, chief executive officer and president of Georgia-Pacific. “It’s critical that we help meet the needs of first responders who are in harm’s way and make our communities safer every day.”

The Bucket Brigade grants, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, are based on need and are funded by the Georgia-Pacific Foundation and local G-P facilities. Funds typically are used to purchase new protective clothing and replace items such as damaged safety gear and aging equipment.

Additionally, Georgia-Pacific gives all grant applicants free memberships to the National Volunteer Fire Council, which provides access to tools, resources, programs and advocacy for first responders across the nation.

“The majority of fire departments in the U.S. are volunteer, and they struggle to maintain basic preparedness levels,” said Heather Schafer, NVFC’s chief executive officer. “Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade grants enable departments to obtain equipment so that they can protect lives and property in their local communities.”