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'Very important': Charity donates defibrillator to Sharing Place

'It’s just an incredible organization that can keep a lot of people alive,' said Sharing Place official on the Chase McEachern AED Memorial Fund
The Chase McEachern AED Memorial Fund recently donated a defibrillator to the Sharing Place. Pictured are Chase volunteers Jeff Hirtzel (left) and Hugh Knowles (right), with Sharing Place executive director Chris Peacock.

The Sharing Place is now home to an automated external defibrillator (AED) thanks to a local charity. 

The Chase McEachern AED Memorial Fund donates AEDs to organizations in memory of its namesake, Chase, a boy from Barrie who died at 12 due to cardiac arrest in 2006. 

“We want to promote Chase’s dream to get these out into the public everywhere, and to save people's lives,” said Chase McEachern volunteer Jeff Hirtzel. 

“We basically donate to charities and nonprofit organizations, just to help out,” added fellow volunteer Hugh Knowles. 

Earlier this spring, the charity donated an AED to the Sharing Place, and Knowles and Hirtzel were at the food bank Thursday to present a placard to accompany the AED.

The AED is a much welcomed addition to the food bank, especially given the high volume of people it serves every month, said Chris Peacock, Sharing Place executive director.

“We get about 1,000 people per month that come through to access food for themselves or their family, and then we also have over 100 volunteers that are working away,” Peacock said. “Because of the volume of individuals that we get through our facility, and the vulnerable population can be more susceptible to health care issues, we felt it was very important to be able to have.”

Both Knowles and Hirtzel have first-hand experience with AEDs, which led to them volunteering for the Chase McEachern cause. 

Several years ago, Hirtzel was refereeing a hockey game that Knowles was playing in, when Knowles collapsed behind the bench after a shift. 

“Their team was pretty short that day and he was really tired. He went off to the bench and when he got off the ice, he collapsed,” Hirtzel said. 

“I'm an ex-firefighter, so I started doing compressions right away, and I got (the AED), hooked it up to him, shocked him once and he kind of came back,” Hirtzel said. “Then I kept on doing compressions and then checking his vitals and then he came back.

“It’s a proven fact they work.”

In preparation for their new AED, Peacock said Sharing Place workers have been taking first-aid courses in recent weeks. 

As a nonprofit organization, he also mentioned it’s "extremely helpful" to have organizations like Chase’s, which donate the needed equipment. 

“It’s just an incredible organization that can keep a lot of people alive, and Hugh’s a living example of that,” Peacock said. “It is a lot more easy to save lives when people don't have to look at ways to fundraise to be able to get that sort of life-saving equipment into your facility.”


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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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