Banks Fire District #13. Photo: Brenda Schaffer

BANKS - After a long wait, the Banks Fire District has confirmed they were among 40 agencies and nonprofits to win a $25,000 nationwide grant offered by State Farm Insurance called Neighborhood Assist.

The district plans to purchase 20 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) to place throughout the district’s 136 square miles, which includes the city of Banks, Timber, Buxton, Manning, Hayward, and more.

The grant was in the form of a contest, pitting 200 grant applications against each other, with the top 40 grant applications with the most votes receiving $25,000. 

It sparked a frenzy of support from community members, with conversations dominated by community members encouraging each other to vote daily for the district.

Voting opened on August 13 and closed on August 23, with a nail biting contest as the district hovered near the top 40, sometimes dropping below the threshold needed for the popular vote to win, sometimes jumping back into a comfortable territory.

One other Washington County nonprofit, Adelente Mujeres, did not win.

“Thank you to everyone who voted for Adelante Mujeres to help us try to win a $25,000 grant for the expansion of Chicas. Although we did not make the top 40 and will not receive this grant, we are so grateful for all of our amazing Adelante supporters,” the nonprofit said in a social media post.

The district was just one of three winners in the safety category; the other two being a project to provide a sidewalk for a Blackwell, Okla. school, and efforts to increase after-prom driving safety in southwest Va.

“As of now, the only documented AED site within our District is at our main fire station in Banks. Our community is in dire need of additional AEDs to be located around our district,” said Banks Fire District public information officer Mitch Ward in an email to the Banks Post.

In a social media post, the district announced their win.

“Keep checking back for details on how we will implement this grant that will allow us to purchase AEDs for the community, provide training on their use, and get them registered on Pulse Point so everyone knows where they are.”

Pulsepoint is a public safety mobile app that allows users to see medical emergencies in their community as well as AED locations. 

In the application for the grant, the district ended their initial pitch for support with a statement that often sums up this nearly all-volunteer force of rescue workers. 

“Just give us the tools and watch what our rural fire district can accomplish.”