Sudden cardiac death is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. The possibility of survival decreases by 7 to 10 percent every minute after collapse.
"To have the best chance of survival, you need to get early CPR and early defibrillation," said Dr. Shaun Sheehan, assistant medical director of emergency medicine and director of emergency medical services at UPMC Altoona.
There may be times when law enforcement is closer to a victim of cardiac arrest than an ambulance, Sheehan said. Until now, most police agencies did not have an AED.
The UPMC Foundation presented Blair County law enforcement agencies with 35 automatic external defibrillators at a meeting of the Blair County Chiefs of Police Association on April 23. Attending were (left to right): front row — Police Chiefs Rowdy C. Kagarise, Jeff Ketner, James E. Ott, Ronald A. Givler, Milton R. Fields and Roger White; second row — Tim Balconi, president, UPMC Altoona Foundation; Rob Halbritter, president, UPMC Altoona Foundation board; Neil Port, member, UPMC Altoona Foundation board; Sgt. Mike Zabinsky, UPMC Altoona Police Department; Chief Paul Blanchard; Dr. Matthew Bouchard, chairman, UPMC Altoona Emergency Medicine; Dr. Shaun Sheehan, assistant medical director of emergency medicine and director of emergency medical services at UPMC Altoona, and Rich Consiglio, Blair County district attorney.
To reduce the time that passes from sudden cardiac death to defibrillation, the UPMC Altoona Foundation is donating 35 AEDs to area police agencies, according to foundation president Tim Balconi.
The 35 AEDs represent a donation of about $50,000. The foundation has also arranged free AED training and support.
An AED, or automated external defibrillator, is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. They are simple to use for the layperson, and their use is taught in many first aid, first responder and basic life support CPR classes.
After receiving free training in the use of an AED from UPMC Altoona Police, officers throughout Blair County can help victims of sudden cardiac death.
"Our hope is that we can improve the community members' chances of survival from sudden cardiac death by getting a
defibrillator to them faster," Sheehan said.
The recipient list includes police departments from UPMC Altoona, Williamsburg, Greenfield Township, Duncansville, Roaring Spring, Tyrone, Martinsburg, Freedom Township, Blair Township, Logan Township, Hollidaysburg, City of Altoona, Bellwood and North Woodbury Township, as well as the Blair County?Sheriff.