Woman helps save man’s life with an AED, putting her mission into action

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LIBERTY, Mo. — A metro woman has made it her mission to have automatic defibrillators, known as AEDs, installed in public places around the metro.

Denise Henning’s husband suffered a fatal heart attack when there wasn’t one around, and she doesn’t want another person or family to suffer the same fate.

Henning’s efforts paid off this past weekend when an umpire stopped breathing at a baseball field, and was saved by an AED.

“Someone yelled that a man had collapsed,” said Henning, who was at Fountain Bluff Sports Complex for her son’s baseball game last Friday night when she turned around and saw an umpire lying on the ground by the concession area.

“He did not have a pulse and he was not breathing,” Henning recalled. “I was pretty calm while we were trying to help him, and then after it all was finished, it really hit me, and it was very emotional.”

Henning and her family experienced a similar scenario in 2012 when her husband, Tim, suffered a heart attack and died at their son’s baseball game at Platte Purchase Park.

“It was just so unbelievable that it happened again in a similar circumstance,” Henning said.

In 2012, there was no AED to help her husband.  After Tim’s death, the Henning family started the Henning Family Foundation — raising money ever since to fulfill their mission of putting AEDs around public places. They’ve put out 100 so far.

“We’ve placed them at ballparks, kids sports venues, community centers, some of our schools,” Henning explained.

“The critical time period is actually outside on the field, before they even come into the hospital,” said Dr. Mazhar Afaq, who says getting a pulse back as quickly as possible is critical.

“That could certainly be the difference between life and death,” Afaq said.

This time around, Henning was prepared.

“I gave the keys to my 15-year-old, Bryan, and told him to run to the car and get the AED,” said Henning, “I never thought that my own unit that I carry in my car would be the first unit that we used to save someone’s life.”

After being shocked by the AED, the umpire started breathing again and his heart started.

Henning says they tried to donate AEDs to Fountain Bluff in 2013 and were told by the director, BJ Staab, that they had three already and didn't need any more.

But for some reason, they were not accessible Friday night.

Henning said she spoke with Liberty Parks and Recreation, and it’s investigating why that is.

“That’s the key; they have to be accessible,” said Henning.

Henning holds a memorial golf tournament each year in honor of her late husband to help raise money to put AEDs in more public places.

According to Liberty Hospital — the umpire is in good condition.

Henning says she hopes he’ll come out to speak at this year’s Tim Henning Memorial Golf Tournament. It will be held on May 29th at the Staley Farms Golf Course.

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