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Photo by Diane Cox
Lovejoy Elementary third-grader Randi Tomlinson donated $611 to the Alton Fire Department on Dec. 18 after she and her classmates collected pennies to go toward the purchase of a device designed to help with CPR compressions.
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Photo by Diane Cox
Alton K9 officers Mike Morelli and Brian Brenner presented Randi Tomlinson with a new bicycle to show their appreciation for her fundraising efforts to help local fire and police programs. Principal John Ducey joined Randi for the presentation.
ALTON — Pennies often are passed over as they lie on the ground in parking lots, parks and sidewalks.
It is estimated there are 1.65 trillion pennies in circulation, and Lovejoy Elementary student Randi Tomlinson intended to put as many of them to work for her community as she could.
“Randi, in my eyes, is a blessing to the community and is a very special young lady,” Alton Fire Chief Bernie Sebold said. “There are not too many people in this world like her; she definitely proves that one person can make a difference. She’s setting such a good example for her classmates when it comes to thinking of others and participating in her own community. The projects she raises money for won’t help just a select few, they have the potential to help everyone. She has a heart of gold and she genuinely cares.”
Earlier this year, Randi organized a fundraiser to help the Alton Police K9 fund. By saving her birthday money and encouraging her fellow classmates to get involved, Randi and the students at Lovejoy collected $720 and presented it to Alton K9 officers Mike Morelli and Brian Brenner on March 23.
After Thanksgiving, Randi heard the fire department was attempting to raise funds for a new life-saving device called the Lucas Chest Compression System and she decided it was the perfect time to organize a new fundraiser.
“I heard of the work she (Randi) had done for the Alton K9 program and I spoke with her mom (Jeri),” Alton Fire Capt. Jessie Jamison said. “She (Jeri) said Randi has been wanting to help the fire department, too. After talking with Chief Sebold, we determined that the Lucas Chest Compression System is what we needed funds to go toward.”
Randi encouraged her classmates to collect and donate pennies to help the fire department raise money for the Lucas device, which costs $17,500. From Dec. 1-18, students collected $611 to donate during an assembly to Sebold and members of the fire department.
The system fits around the chest of a patient in cardiac arrest and performs chest compressions in the place of a rescuer’s hands.
“When we go to a scene, we have so many things to do quickly,” Sebold said. “Someone needs to start an IV, intubate the patient to secure an airway, push medications through the IV and at the same time do chest compressions and perform CPR. The Lucas device frees a rescuer from the act of doing compressions so he or she can perform those other life-saving duties.”
Anyone who has taken a CPR class knows performing CPR can be exhausting without the continued stress of being in a moving ambulance. Sebold spoke of the importance of the device allowing CPR to go uninterrupted during the transport of the patient. “Every time compressions are interrupted, it’s a risk to the survival of the patient,” Sebold said. “If a patient needs extricated from a vehicle, compressions have to stop momentarily. When a patient is put in a backboard and loaded into the ambulance, compressions have to stop momentarily. This device will keep compressions going through all of those situations without interruption and give the patient a better chance.”
The Alton police and fire departments decided to show Randi their appreciation by presenting her with an early Christmas gift after she made her presentation to the fire department. Officers Morelli and Brenner appeared with a new bicycle for Randi to show her good deeds have not been overlooked by her friends at the fire station and police department.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the Lucas device can submit their donation to the Alton Firefighters Insurance Fund by mailing or dropping it off at 333 E. 20th St. in Alton.