Leftover FSA funds? Buy an AED

We are pretty fortunate at our house. For starters, we have health care. Second, our employers give us the option of a Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) for medical expenses. And third, emergency room visits and trips to the orthopedist were way down this year. A record low — only 8 total — stitches, no broken bones, separated shoulders or sprained MCLs. Yep, it was a pretty good year.

So the good news is a healthy family. The bad news is we have a lot of money left in our FSA this year. And with the restrictions on how that money can be spent, it means we either stock up on heating pads, sunblock and contact solution or we lose that money. Well, even a mom on a mission to wipe out melanoma can only go through so much sunblock. And losing our hard-earned money isn’t an attractive option either. So we came up with another solution.

PhilipsAEDIt wasn’t my idea. The account rep at our FSA provider suggested to my husband that we shop one of those FSA-approved websites, and mentioned that “you could even buy an AED.” Hmmm. What would we do with an AED?

Each year in the United States, 350,000 Americans die suddenly and unexpectedly due to cardiac arrhythmias. Almost 4,000 of them are people under age 35, according to the Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes website. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows that bystander use of an AED before EMS arrival increases the odds of survival by 80%. I’ll take those odds.

And from the American Red Cross website:

The American Red Cross supports the position that improved training and access to AEDs could save 50,000 lives each year. The Red Cross believes that all Americans should be within four minutes of an AED and someone trained to use it.

So we bought an AED. While part of me thinks it would be cool, it seemed kind of selfish to add it to the Mom Bag and drive around with it in my car. And that’s why we donated it to our high schools, where it’s accessible to over 6,000 people.

We have a secondary school campus that ranges over 305 acres. Three high schools, each with baseball, softball, soccer, football, track, tennis and lacrosse facilities, are spread out over those 305 acres. You aren’t within four minutes of a bathroom in some locations, let alone an AED. Our schools don’t have the money to install an AED every 500 yards. I bet yours don’t, either.

When I contacted the school to see if they were interested in an AED donation, they were thrilled. And when we took it over, we met Barb, who had lost her son due to a sudden heart arrythmia.

Here’s part of the thank you letter we got from Barb.
“I can’t express enough how kind and generous it is of you to donate an AED for the . . . district.  Since our son Mike passed away in March of 1998 from a sudden death heart arrythmia, our family has been involved with the SADS (Sudden Arrythmia Death Support) organization; learning and reaching out to other families who have experienced such a loss . . . . From our family as well as my entire school family, we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts.”
See? Much better than driving around with it in my car.
There are three weeks left in the year. Have you checked the balance in your FSA? An AED might be out of your price range but maybe a business will match your donation. And a decent first aid kit starts at around $30. Do you really need all that sunblock?

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