Durham, NH Local 2253 Secretary David Blatchford is the newest IAFF member to be honored with Liberty Mutual’s Firemark Award for his part in a successful three-year campaign to install the first automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in two University of New Hampshire sorority houses – Alpha Xi Delta and Alpha Phi.

“I am really humbled by Liberty’s Mutual’s recognition of this effort,” says Blanchford. “It was definitely not something that could have been accomplished without the help of the full Local 2253 membership.”

Blatchford says he and other members of Local 2253 were first approached by members of Alpha Xi Delta in 2011 with a real safety concern.

Sorority member Andrea Karpinksi explained that she was 15 when both her mother and sister died three months apart from sudden heart failure. Five years later, Andrea also had a heart attack but was revived by Derry Local 4392 members. Karpinkski says she wanted to improve survival rates on campus by installing AEDs.

“We were all very moved by her story and wanted to help, but we encountered some initial resistance from the housing authority that manages the Alpha Xi Delta house,” explains Blatchford. “They were concerned that they might be liable should anyone use the AED incorrectly.

Local 2243 members worked hard to ease all of the housing authority’s concerns and promised to provide training to the sorority sisters who would potentially need to use the equipment. Meanwhile, a T-shirt drive was organized to raise money for the AED, which did well enough to purchase two.

Finally, in April 2014, the first AED was installed at the Alpha Xi Delta House. Later, the second was in installed at the Alpha Phi house.

“We have already trained several of the sorority sisters and are working to organize additional training sessions so that everyone is comfortable,” says Blanchford.

He says he hopes the success of these two AED installations will lead to a broader goal of putting AEDs in all University of New Hampshire sorority and fraternity houses.

Blanchard also helps organize an educational program for fifth graders called Firefighters And Students Together for Educational Recreation (FASTER) which ties the fundamentals of fire fighting into basic life lessons for children, such as team work, respect and dedication to family and community.

To nominate a fire fighter for the Liberty Mutual Firemark Award, click here.