Durham firefighter David Blatchford received the 2019 University of New Hampshire Fraternity and Sorority Life Health and Safety Impact Award on Friday, Feb. 7 for his work in the placement of automated external defibrillator machines (AED) units–in every fraternity and sorority house on campus. 

The 2020 FSL Award ceremony, hosted by UNH Fraternity and Sorority Life coordinator Jamie Silverstein, honors students, administrators and others in the UNH Durham community who have gone above and beyond with their service and contributions. 

Blatchford spoke to the project, which took nearly a decade. 

“The Durham Professional Firefighters started an AED placement program back in 2011,” Blatchford said. “The program started over a pasta dinner at the sorority Alpha Xi Delta (AXD). A conversation between the duty shift and a young girl named Andrea Karpinski lead to the placement coverage in every Fraternity and Sorority house on campus.” 

 “Andrea’s mom passed away from a heart attack when she was only 15 years old. Three months later, her sister, who was a member of AXD, also passed away at the age of 20 from the same thing. Andrea herself was also born with heart disease. In May of 2011, she was working out on a treadmill at Planet Fitness and went in to cardiac arrest. Even though the gym had an AED, no one knew how to use it. When the members of Derry Fire showed up on scene, they shocked her and got her back. In Nov. of 2011, over dinner, she told the story to the duty shift and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. She said her goal was to get an AED in her sorority house before she graduated.” 

“That night the duty shift went back to the firehouse and designed a tee shirt that the kids could sell to raise money to buy the AED,” Blatchford said. “With a lot of hard work and many hurdles to overcome, unfortunately the AED was placed and purchased one year after she graduated in 2014, along with another one across the street at Alpha Phi. Since then, through fundraising and donations and a lot of tee shirt sales, the Durham Professional Firefighters have placed 22 units. Twelve of these units are in sorority and fraternity houses on campus. Four additional units were also placed on four athletic fields in Durham, Lee and Madbury for the Oyster River Youth Association as a result of an Eagle Scout project. Three other units have been also replaced with two being at the Durham Police Department and one at a local church.” 

“The project has also continued to maintain replacements on all the units for batteries and pads when they have reached their expiration dates,” he said. 

Blatchford acknowledged the team effort necessary to see the project through to the end. 

“Many thanks to all the members of the Durham Professional Firefighters Local #2253,” he said. “Also, to all the members of the Greek community, the Durham Fire Department, The UNH Police Department, and One Beat CPR who has worked tirelessly throughout the process to provide us with the AEDs. But most of all, Andrea Karpinski and her vision to make the community a safer place. It only took 9 years, but her vision is finally complete.” 

Blatchford acknowledged the assistance of Jamie Silverstein with the AED placement in the last four houses. 

“About a year ago I received email messages from [Durham firefighter] Dave Blatchford, regarding the student driven initiative to equip FSL houses with the AED units,” Silverstein said. “I welcomed the opportunity to help with this; I believe in creating a culture of care at our university.” 

Pete Leavitt, the president of Durham Professional Firefighters IAFF Local #2253, spoke at the FSL awards ceremony about the “power of conversations.” 

“Dave Blatchford drove the project through its many hurdles,” he said. “His conversation with Andrea is what got this ball rolling, he did the tee shirts, he got the state grant pricing, and he got One Beat to continue with the bid price. He went door to door at every Fraternity and Sorority house. He attended meetings to try to get every house on board with frustrating results, and he did this for over 5 years.” 

“When the momentum for the project stopped,” Leavitt said, “the UNH Police Department and Jamie Silverstein were integral to getting the final 4 units installed.”  

“Once again, the power of conversation cannot be underestimated,” Leavitt said. “Through conversations the legacy of making the campus safer will be carried down from generation to generation.” 

(Durham firefighters Peter Leavitt and Dave Blatchford -photo courtesy of Hannah Grich) 

The hard work of the dynamic Wildcat student body and faculty were evident as the roll call for awards continued. 

Other Fraternity and Sorority Life Award winners included: 

-Theta Chi (Outstanding Values Based Program) 

-Mathew Cheng-Lambda Chi Alpha (Scholars Award) 

-Sam Dolan-Chi Omega (Scholars Award) 

-Sarah Hobbs-Kappa Delta (Unsung Fraternity and Sorority Life Member) 

-Chi Omega (Outstanding Accountability and Risk Management) 

-Delta Xi Phi (Outstanding Collaborative Program) 

-Lambda Chi Alpha (Outstanding Community Service Program) 

-Alpha Phi (Outstanding Collaborative Program) 

-Phi Sigma Sigma (Outstanding Community Service Program) 

-Alpha Xi Delta (Outstanding Community Spirit) 

-Theta Chi (Outstanding Extended Network Program) 

-Kathleen Grace-Bishop-Wellness Services (Outstanding Faculty/ Staff Member) 

-Delta Xi Phi (Outstanding Membership Development) 

-Alpha Tau Omega (Outstanding Membership Development and Outstanding Values Based Recruitment) 

-Lambda Chi Alpha (Outstanding Values Based Recruitment) 

-Nicholas Argiro-Lambda Chi Alpha (Ambassador) 

-Lambda Chi Alpha (Chapter of Excellence) 

-Noah Dobbins-Alpha Tau Omega (Emerging Leader) 

-Jacqueline Helle-Alpha Phi (Emerging Leader) 

-Jen Drohan-Kappa Delta (Member of the Year) 

-Robert Hoyt-Lambda Chi Alpha (Member of the Year) 

-Colin Frost-Lambda Chi Alpha (Fraternity Advisor of the Year) 

-Mardi Chadwick Balcom-Chi Omega (Sorority Advisor of the Year) 

-Alpha Xi Delta (Most Improved Chapter) 

-Sigma Chi (Most Improved Chapter) 

-Theta Chi (Outstanding Academic/ Intellectual Initiative and Outstanding Accountability and Risk Management) 

(members of Alpha Tau Omega-photo courtesy of Hannah Grich) 

(members of Alpha Xi Delta-photo courtesy of Hannah Grich) 

(Jamie Silverstein (middle) with Delta Xi Phi and Alpha Phi members-photo courtesy of Hannah Grich)