OCEAN CITY — After operating on the Boardwalk for over 80 years, the family-owned Alaska Stand is now a pioneer of a different sort.
On the Fourth of July a year ago, a visitor collapsed on the Boardwalk near 9th Street presenting symptoms of a cardiac arrest. Jodi Renner, a registered nurse who runs the Alaska Stand nearby with her husband Dennis, as the family has since 1933, rushed over to begin First Aid treatment to the victim until paramedics arrived and soon learned the answer to her question.
“Somebody collapsed on the Boardwalk and I went to help,” she said this week. “The victim was presenting with signs of cardiac arrest and 911 was called and I asked if there was any AED (Automated Electronic Defibrillator) anywhere nearby on the Boardwalk and the answer was no. That made me start to question why and that is what precipitated the idea.”
With an idea that has now become a reality, the Alaska Stand and the Renners have purchased and installed an AED at the famed Boardwalk business. Jodi Renner said obviously the beach patrol and Ocean City first-responders have quick access to AEDs, as do a handful of hotels, but as far as she can determine, the Alaska Stand is the first business on the Boardwalk to have its own.
“The beach patrol carries AEDs on their four-wheelers and that is great, especially if you have a cardiac event before 5:30 p.m. when they go off duty,” she said. “I just didn’t understand why a tourist town that welcomes millions of visitors each year doesn’t have more of them around. As a business, we had to make a decision and I’m confident we made the right one.”
Renner said she did some research and found there were no programs or public funding available for AEDs in the private sector, so if the Alaska Stand was going to purchase one and install it, they were essentially going to be on their own. The AED themselves typically cost between $1,600 and $2,000, and there are also annual maintenance fees after the initial purchase and installation. Nonetheless, it was a small price to pay for the potential to save a life, especially on a crowded Boardwalk during the peak summer season when every second could make a difference.
“It is a bit of a commitment, but we’re fine with that,” she said. “We’re happy to have it here, and we want the community to know it’s here. It’s one of those things that you hope you never have to use it, but it’s good to know it’s here if and when it is needed. Obviously, it gets locked up when we close the business, but we’re open 16 to 18 hours a day during the height of the season.”
Renner said she hopes other businesses along the Boardwalk follow suit and purchase and install their own AEDs. She said she has had cursory discussions with other business owners with some receptive to the idea, some not interested and some simply not having the money available to do it. She said perhaps some businesses could pull their resources to get AEDs in clustered areas along the Boardwalk.
As a registered nurse, Jodi Renner clearly knows the ins and outs of operating an AED. Although her husband and staff have not been trained on the equipment, formal training is not a prerequisite for using one in an emergency.
“They are made for anybody to use,” she said. “You just turn it on and the machine talks you carefully through the steps. The result is usually a much better outcome for many during cardiac events. We’re happy to have it and share it if and when it is ever needed. Our hope is that some of the other businesses might follow suit and collaborate on getting more of them around the Boardwalk.”