- The inspiration and passion behind Advocates for Health dates back to 2004 when Joel Vogel suffered a heart attack at home and while in ambulance on route to the hospital went into Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). This is when Joel began volunteering with a local organization to advocate for increased public education and the importance of CPR/AED training. A few years later, Joel also began hosting an annual golf tournament which fundraised to donate defibrillators (AED’s) to local community organizations.
- After years of attending each golf tournament and watching Joel donate over 25 AED’s, his friend of over 35 years Rich Feneis, decided to do a bit of research on his own into SCA and AED’s. Rich, a recent retiree from the sign & logo business, quickly realized that given the current EMS response times in his area unless he had a readily accessible AED in his home or neighborhood the chance of survival from SCA was virtually none.
- Rich committed to placing a lifesaving AED somewhere that was accessible to all of his family & neighbors day or night, but knowing the temperature ranges that AED’s must be kept within – he was unsure how to accomplish this until he came across a news article showcasing a recent installation of temperature regulated & smart monitored AED cabinets in eight community parks. The 2018 Pilot Program was launched. This idea quickly caught on, with Rich & two of his friends installing Smart Monitored cabinets in their neighborhoods during fall 2018.
- After the AED Cabinets successfully maintained the necessary temperatures throughout the polar vortex of winter 2018, Rich and Joel decided to expand this project across Central Minnesota. With that, Advocates for Health was formed as a nonprofit company in 2019 and became a certified 501(c)(3) charitable organization in 2020.
- In 2018, a pilot program was successfully executed in Sartell, MN in the Pine Point Road Neighborhood.
- Early in 2018, a proposal was presented to the CentraCare Foundation in the St. Cloud, MN.
- The proposal was approved in 2 parts: CentraCare Foundation would provide an AED unit and CPR/AED training for a neighborhood group with the agreement that the neighborhood group would provide funding for the housing unit.
- The Pine Point neighborhood in Sartell, MN was the first pilot neighborhood and raised approximately $5,500 in a month with a participation rate of 70% of the neighbors. The unit was installed in the Pine Point Neighborhood in Dec. 2018 and CPR/AED training was provided to the neighborhood group.
- The CentraCare Heart Foundation ultimately decided to fund 25 more units using the same grant pilot program format and 2 additional units were installed in neighborhoods in the St. Cloud area.
- As of February 2021 over 60 AEDs have been installed in outdoor Smart Monitored cabinets, and Advocates for Health is rapidly expanding to other states and Canada.
"As I get older and I see friends and family pass away, the one thing I want to do is give people the chance to grow old with their spouse, watch their kids and grandkids develop into fine human beings, and feel how great life is. I can't think of a better way to do this than by spreading the word about how AEDs save lives and that they can turn a survival rate of less than 8% into a survival rate of 75% or more."
- Advocates For Health coordinated with GeoComm to help enhance a mapping software they support.
- With the support of Sheriff Steve Soyka, an initiative was organized to do a survey to locate all of the AEDs in the Stearns County area. Data as gathered on over 400 AEDs
- Part of the survey included identifying location of the AEDs as well as making sure they were functional and batteries and pads were up to date.
- After finding the location of the AEDs, the information was shared with GeoComm’s 911 systems.
- This provides 911 operates realtime access to where an AED is location in the event of an emergency.