Ninilchik gets a new heart monitor

Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mike Chihuly's department will be better able to serve Ninilchik now that they have the money for a new high-tech heart monitor and defibrillator. The fire chief for Ninilchik Emergency Services showed up at Soldotna's Alaska USA Bank to receive an oversized check worth $16,782.

"(We're) so far away from the hospital," Chihuly said. "We have an older (defibrillator). It's going on our first medical unit."

Ninilchik Emergency Services provides services to more than 750 full-time residents, countless tourists who make their way to Deep Creek and Ninilchik River to fish and motorists making their way to Homer or Soldotna. Chihuly said Ninilchik Emergency Services is in charge of a 25-mile stretch of highway and the fire board and EMS chief, Gina Wiste, thought having a new heart monitor was a priority.

"Large percentages are cardiac calls for heart attacks," he said.

In order to come up with the money for the new heart monitor, Chihuly and Ninilchik Emergency Services asked Fireman's Fund Insurance Company for help. Kelly Beloit, community relations manager for Fireman's Fund, said Alaska USA directed the grant. Fireman's Fund has provided help to widows and orphans of firefighters since 1863 and has given more than $13 million to 450 fire departments nationwide.

The heart monitor is able to analyze electrocardiograms, take a person's vital signs noninvasively and deliver an electrical shock to the heart if the patient goes into cardiac arrest. The machine can also print the date, time and any pertinent information a cardiologist might need by fax so doctors at the hospital can be ready for the patient when he arrives.

"We asked the Fireman's Fund and Alaska USA thought (the grant) was a good idea too," Chihuly said. "It's hard to come up with that kind of money flipping pancakes and selling cookbooks."

Jessica Cejnar can be reached at

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