Chatham Fields are Safer

From the Chatham Courier

John Taylor Babbitt Foundation and joint committee funding
By KATE BREX, Editor
Published: Aug 7th, 6:15 AM

CHATHAM – Borough recreation fields are safer for the installation of Automated External Defibrillators (AED) placed there by the borough’s recreation department and the John Taylor Babbitt Foundation (JTB).

The AEDs were placed at all five recreation fields in the borough.

“We have already installed a good number of AEDs in businesses around town,” said Mayor Nelson Vaughan, who has been trained to use the device. “Now with the addition of these defibrillators at the fields, it will really make a difference. I hope that they never have to be used, but if they are, I hope that they are used effectively. Everyone should be trained in their use.”

The purchase of the devices was a joint effort of the JTB Foundation and the Joint Recreation Committee of the Chathams.
However, the foundation made a substantial donation towards the placement of the AEDs at borough fields as part of its mission to prevent sudden cardiac death.

Both groups worked hand-in-hand with Atlantic HeartSmart AED to complete the project.

“They were critical to the project getting done,” said Joanne Babbitt, vice president of the foundation.

Babbitt, also co-founder of the John Taylor Babbitt Foundation, has always wanted to give back to a community that supported her and her family when her son John Taylor suffered sudden cardiac arrest in 2006.

The foundation is a not-for-profit organization founded in the memory of John Taylor Babbitt, who was 16 when he collapsed and died at a basketball game at St. Patrick’s Church on Chatham Street from undiagnosed hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).

A resident of Chatham, John Babbitt was a junior at the Pingry School in Bernards Township when he died on Feb. 26, 2006. A 2003 graduate of St. Patrick School, he was a member of the Youth Ministry and a member of the football, basketball, soccer and baseball teams at Pingry.

Babbitt said there was no better way to thank the community than installing devices that could save another young person’s life.

“If it hadn’t been for the people of Chatham, we don’t know where we would be,” she said.

The foundation was begun three years ago to keep “young people engaged.”

The easily reached devices are mounted on a pole. When pulled from the pole, the device emits a piercing alarm notifying anyone within range that something has gone wrong. It serves two purposes, alerting people of an emergency and deterring anyone from stealing the device.

The devices, which cost between $1,500 and $2,000, were ordered through Atlantic Health Systems.

In recent year’s, the cost of the AEDs has gone down and the operating simplicity of the device has gone up allowing almost anyone to help in a dire emergency possibly saving someone’s life before help arrives.

The new generation of Automated External Defibrillators “talks” the user through the process.

Babbitt confirmed that the devices are simpler and easier to handle. She also noted that if a member of the public uses the device, the state’s good Samaritan law would kick in.

“However, you have to follow some steps in order to be protected by the law,” she said.

After discussions with the School District of the Chathams, the school district will also begin placement of units at school facilities Chatham Recreation uses.

“The Babbitt Foundation with assistance from Carol Nauta and Tom Denning have identified several school fields used by both school teams and the recreation department for installation of AEDs,” said Superintendent of Schools James O’Neill. “We have agreed to supplement the ones they are installing by putting an additional one at both Cougar and Haas fields. This is a great initiative and we appreciate the efforts of the Babbitt Foundation to do things to help ensure the health and safety of athletes in Chatham. We currently have AEDs in all of our schools and each nurse, as well as, the athletic trainer also have one each.”

Raising Awareness

The third annual “Walk with Heart” to honor John Babbitt and raise funds for the foundation, was held on Sunday, May 17, at The Pingry School in Bernards Township.

More than 400 students and families from the area participated in the event, which raised more than $45,000 for the foundation. At the walk, representatives from Atlantic Health Systems were available and demonstrated the use of the AEDs.

Babbitt said the foundation has underwritten three American Heart Association certified AED training courses and plans to hold more.

Walk with Heart was sponsored by the foundation and organized by students in The Pingry School’s JTB Heart Club as part of the independent senior project.

The day included a three-mile run, three-mile walk, music, food, and prizes.

The foundation is dedicated to the prevention of sudden cardiac death particularly in student athletes. Current foundation initiatives include supporting defibrillator legislation, raising awareness on the prevalence of sudden cardiac death, and working to increase defibrillator availability on local playing fields.

“John’s sudden loss was shocking and tragic,” said his father David Babbitt. “But it is our hope that through the foundation’s activities we can prevent other families from experiencing the pain of losing a child to this disease.”

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