LUMBERTON — A ceremony held Wednesday to dedicate a defibrillator in honor of paramedic Hal Byrd at the Pinecrest Country Club was short, but served as a symbol of the support that flooded in after his sudden death of heart failure in early April.
Four months after Byrd’s death, members of Lumberton Rescue and EMS have nearly raised enough money to purchase three AED’s, far surpassing their goal of placing just one in Byrd’s honor at Pinecrest Country Club, where Byrd collapsed while playing golf on April 11. The organization raised money by selling wristbands with his name and “LREMS.”
“This program was such a success that we have been able to get additional money and we are going to present one to Northeast Park for their sporting events and hopefully we are looking at a third one for Bill Sapp Recreation Center,” said Lumberton Rescue Cmdr. Roger Taylor. “Those two facilities have a lot of athletics going on, and they currently do not have any AED’s either. We hope this is something that will be continued in Hal’s honor.”
An AED is a medical device designed to be used by people with no medical background to administer treatment to someone who has gone into cardiac arrest.
The group was able to expand its original goal after former Leonard Thompson, a longtime professional golfer who was born in Laurinburg and lives in Lumberton, donated nearly half the cost of one AED.
“That was what really afforded us to take additional money to Northeast Park and to Bill Sapp. It was a tremendous help,” Taylor said.
The group plans to dedicate the second machine at Northeast Park in August.
The plan to purchase the defibrillator came after the mother of volunteer P.J. Monteiro donated 100 wristbands to Lumberton Rescue, and the organization decided use them to raise money to honor Byrd. Byrd had served with Lumberton Rescue and EMS since July 2005.
After selling hundreds of wristbands, the organization has raised about $2,400 in honor of Byrd, and expects to be able to purchase the third machine after selling the last of the wristbands.
Wednesday’s dedication will allow Pinecrest to have life-saving equipment for heart-related emergencies located in the clubhouse in a case bearing Byrd’s name.
“We are very proud to honor Hal with this, we are very glad to have a defibrillator, and though this wouldn’t have saved Hal’s life, it may save a life in the future,” said Dwight Gane, head golf professional at Pinecrest.
The AED at Pinecrest will be a special reminder for paramedic Brad Byrd, Hal’s son, who plays golf there frequently.
“Every time I play out here I will see it, and I’ll remember him. We played out here every day pretty much. This was our place, this was where we came.”
Byrd said the AED will continue his father’s legacy of service.
“My dad did a lot for the community, and every job he ever had was serving people,” said Byrd. “He worked at the Burger King for 26 years serving people and this was just a continuation of him serving the community.”
“He loved people. You could go to Walmart with him and he would stay in there for an hour just talking to people, because he knew everybody and everybody knew him.”
Jack Frederick is an intern for The Robesonian.