UGA student leads installation of AED devices in fraternity and sorority houses

Boonstra Elliott, UGA student and member of Chi Phi fraternity, is leading an initiative to install Automated External Defibrillator (AED) devices in 19 Panhellenic sorority houses and 23 Interfraternity Council (IFC) fraternity houses.   

What at first glance may seem like an unusual project for a second-year college student makes perfect sense when you learn more about Elliot’s story. In October of 2022, his father experienced a cardiac arrest at work and technically died for several minutes. His father’s colleagues administered 13 minutes of CPR until paramedics arrived and administered two shocks from an AED machine. The second shock successfully helped his heart to begin beating again.  

After this frightening experience, Elliott was inspired to help as many people have access to the equipment that saved his dad’s life as possible. He started at his fraternity house, raising money with proceeds from a concert his band, the Blue Room Band, performed at Chi Phi’s Parent’s Weekend. Elliott shared his dad’s story and about the importance of having AED devices readily accessible, including at their own fraternity house. The event raised nearly $4,000, and Elliott subsequently led an initiative to host a CPR class at the fraternity. 

Noticing the success of his appeal, Elliott wanted to expand into other IFC and Panhellenic chapters.

“AED devices are another level of added protection that can save a life,” Elliott said. “It is especially important for Greek Life houses to have AED machines as they have permanent residents, and host community and philanthropy events that have upwards of a thousand attendees.”

Though eventually successful, the initiative has not come without its challenges. Elliott struggled with logistics for installation and funding. For guidance, he reached out to leaders in the UGA and Athens communities. Dean of Students Eric Atkinson, whom Elliott knew through taking a class Atkinson taught, was one of the first people Elliott contacted. Seeing the need and benefit to students, Atkinson supported the initiative and helped Elliott work with campus colleagues to reach the funding goal.  

Today, 21 houses have opted into the program with 17 installations completed, and 4 installations scheduled for completion. From here, Elliott plans to expand the initiative to other universities across the nation.

By Madison Imparato, Digital Marketing Assistant in Division of Student Affairs