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KTA Super Stores donates seven lifesaving AEDs to West Hawaii Civic Center

Toby Taniguchi and Barry Taniguchi of KTA Super Stores, Mayor Billy Kenoi, and Bobby Command of the County stand with one of the new AEDs donated by the Taniguchis.

Toby Taniguchi and Barry Taniguchi of KTA Super Stores, Mayor Billy Kenoi, and Bobby Command of the County stand with one of the new AEDs at the West Hawaii Civic Center donated by the Taniguchis.


When KTA Super Stores says “You’re someone special every day at KTA,” they really mean it. The island supermarket chain, which has served generations of Hawai‘i County residents, is also looking out for their lives as well with the donation of seven AED devices to the West Hawai‘i Civic Center. Given to the people in the name of store founders Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi, these kits are located in strategic places around the WHCC campus, and could one day save the life of a person suffering from cardiac arrest.

An AED, or automated external defibrillator, is a device that automatically diagnoses the potentially life threatening cardiac arrythmias known as ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia, and treats them through defibrillation, the application of an electrical shock which stops the arrhythmia and allows the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm. AEDs are designed to be simple to use for anyone, and the use of AEDs is taught in many first-aid, first responder, and basic life support (BLS) level CPR classes.

Toby Taniguchi, KTA executive vice president for store operations, said he overheard Deputy Managing Director Wally Lau at a Waimea “Talk Story” event asking former Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira if there were any funds to purchase AEDs following the near death of Bobby Command, one of the mayor’s executive assistants, due to such a heart arrhythmia. “I could hear the passion in his voice,” said Taniguchi. “We already have these in our stores, and when I heard Wally, I decided to ask my dad (CEO Barry Taniguchi) and asked if he could help me locate available resources to make a donation to the County possible.”

What started out as a couple of AEDs, turned into seven. “You know how it goes: I said how much would it be for two, three, then four and they got cheaper (per unit) as we kept asking for more,” said Toby Taniguchi. “And when I explained that we were going to donate the units to the County, the vendor gave us an additional discount. I’m real glad we were able to buy a bunch of them at such a good price.”

Lau said one would have been a great gift, but seven allows a much quicker response time. “If we just had one in the mayor’s office or the council chambers, that would have meant a wait for someone who was in distress on the other side of the campus,” he said. “Anyone will tell you that when your heart stops, quick action can prevent brain damage and death.”

That was evident in February when Command had a bout with ventricular fibrillation while on vacation in Honolulu. If it were not for the quick action of a number of Chaminade University students who immediately began performing CPR, Command would likely have been one of about 300,000 people who die of similar episodes in the United States each year. Instead, he is one of the 5 percent who survive and keep living normal lives. “They kept me alive for almost 10 minutes until the ambulance arrived,” he said. “When the paramedics got there, they used an AED and it started my heart right up.”

Barry Taniguchi recalled seeing the story about Command, which appeared on a number of Hawaii TV news programs and quickly helped son Toby locate the resources needed to procure the devices. “My mother died of the same condition as Bobby Command,” said Barry, “So it is appropriate that we donate these units.”

Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi said KTA’s donation is typical of generosity of the Taniguchi family. “One day someone is going to need an AED at the Civic Center, and they will have KTA Super Stores to thank,” said Mayor Kenoi. “I’ve seen the Taniguchis step up so many times and never once ask for recognition. We are so fortunate that the Taniguchis are members of our community.”

The Philips Heartstart Defribilators cost about $2,000 each and has a shelf life of about five to seven years. Each unit will begin chirping when it needs to be serviced. The servicing normally consists of replacing the standby battery. The units are also “smart,” and will first analyze the patient’s condition and determine if a shock is needed. It also records the episode for later use by doctors.

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