Members of Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union stand with St. Clair Shores Fire Chief James Piper, right, and Training Chief Ryan Koepp, left, at the April 15 City Council meeting.

Members of Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union stand with St. Clair Shores Fire Chief James Piper, right, and Training Chief Ryan Koepp, left, at the April 15 City Council meeting.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske


Donors help SCS Fire Department purchase lifesaving equipment

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 22, 2019

 Members of Shorewood Kiwanis and members of the St. Clair Shores Fire Department pose with the Lucas 3 automated CPR device.

Members of Shorewood Kiwanis and members of the St. Clair Shores Fire Department pose with the Lucas 3 automated CPR device.

Photo provided by Shorewood Kiwanis

 Koepp talks about some of the equipment the donation from MSGCU provided to the department.

Koepp talks about some of the equipment the donation from MSGCU provided to the department.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

ST. CLAIR SHORES — During the budgetary process, not everything that could help firefighters makes the cut.

“Some of those wish list items ... don’t make the budgetary process,” said Fire Training Chief Ryan Koepp.

That includes things like slings for ice rescues and half-mask respirators, which are more comfortable to wear for long periods of time when firefighters don’t necessarily need the self-contained breathing apparatuses they use to fight fires.

Also on that list is a device that provides consistent, automated compressions for CPR, but costs about $16,000.

Thanks to a local civic group and a local business, however, the Fire Department has received some of those “wish list” items.

Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union donated $1,000 worth of equipment to the Fire Department as part of its long-standing tradition of giving back to the community, Chief James Piper told the City Council April 15. This is the second year the credit union reached out to him to ask what his department needed.

“We had a great opportunity to sit down and talk to them and find some of those things that sometimes we don’t get an opportunity to get,” Piper said.

Anisa Picalli, branch sales manager at the St. Clair Shores branch of MSGCU, said that service and education have been at the core of the credit union’s business since opening in 1954. She said that working with the Fire Department has been a great partnership.

Shorewood Kiwanis also recently gave back to the Fire Department in a big way.

“We’re all about children and our community, and we just thought that this would be an awesome tool for the Fire Department and our community, saving lives,” said Sharon Gwizdowski, president of Shorewood Kiwanis.

The club used money raised through its annual Harper Charity Cruise, wild game dinner and gourmet nut sales to pay for the approximately $16,000 Lucas 3 device, which gives mechanical chest compressions during CPR.

St. Clair Shores EMS Coordinator Kurt Grover told the Kiwanis that providing just two minutes of chest compressions can be taxing on a first responder, and a typical time frame that they need to provide those compressions to a patient is 30-40 minutes. In addition, it can be difficult to maintain CPR while transporting a patient in an ambulance.

The Fire Department had tested out one of the devices for three months at the end of 2018.

Koepp said that when the department asked Shorewood Kiwanis for help in obtaining a Lucas 3 device, they were just hoping to get a donation to help pay for the expensive equipment.

“What we’re seeing is some pretty remarkable results that we thought were so promising that we pitched the idea for the Kiwanis, hoping to get a donation toward one,” Koepp said. “We were not prepared,” he said, to have the group tell the department that they wanted to purchase the entire device.

“They ended up saying, ‘We want to get you one right now,’” he added.

Gwizdowski said that the group hopes to raise money with other groups in the city to purchase another device for the department in the future. Those interested in supporting the project should contact Gwizdowski at sgwizdowski35@gmail.com.

Piper told the City Council that the department tries to spend the money it receives from the city wisely, but they also “love to partner up” with organizations and individuals in the city who wish to help.