The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has awarded the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Bureau of Emergency and Trauma Services (BETS) a $10.1 million grant to provide law enforcement officials and first responders throughout the state with more than 4,000 automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) to improve cardiac arrest survival.
The three-year project aims to equip every law enforcement vehicle in the state with an AED and train law enforcement professionals to deliver the best care prior to the arrival of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Additionally, the project will equip conservation officers and staff at state parks with AEDs.
“The people of Iowa are grateful for the partnership with the Helmsley Charitable Trust,” said Governor Kim Reynolds. “We know law enforcement officers are often the first on the scene of an accident or on calls to 911 for medical emergencies. This initiative to place defibrillators in every law enforcement vehicle in Iowa will save lives by providing emergency medical interventions in cases where a few seconds can make all the difference.”
Studies conducted by the American Heart Association demonstrate a dramatically higher survival rate for cardiac patients defibrillated by law enforcement, who are generally first on the scene, especially in rural areas.
“Seconds count during a cardiac arrest,” said Walter Panzirer, a Helmsley trustee. “We know in Iowa first responders often have great distances to cover. This funding will ensure those who get to the scene before EMS arrives give patients a better shot at survival.”
“On behalf of law enforcement officers and first responders across Iowa, I want to thank the Helmsley Charitable Trust for their commitment to saving lives,” said Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens. “When tragedy strikes, officers respond. This donation will put a defibrillator in up to 4,000 patrol cars and will equip officers with the ability to provide immediate and effective lifesaving efforts. There is no doubt lives will be saved and families transformed as a result of this generosity.”
“IDPH looks forward to working with the Helmsley Charitable Trust on this project which will allow the department to get life-saving tools and training into the hands of law enforcement officers across the state," said Bureau of Emergency and Trauma Services chief Rebecca Curtiss. "With Helmsley's support, law enforcement and first responders will be better prepared to respond to cardiac arrests and save lives."
During the first year of the grant, BETS will distribute LIFEPAK® CR2 defibrillators designed by Stryker to all participating law enforcement agencies for primary response vehicles. Master trainers throughout Iowa will teach and refresh CPR and AED skills, and agencies and training academies are invited to check out training devices for continued refresher training. Communication regarding the training requirements and device distribution will be sent through the ILEA contact lists and through the IDPH/BETS local public health, hospital and EMS coalitions.
The AEDs feature technology conducive to the highly mobile and challenging environment of a patrol vehicle to assure consistency and compatibility among every law enforcement agency, as well as consistent training, tracking and use. The AEDs will ensure that rescuers provide the fastest first shock when defibrillation is needed. The devices feature industry-leading analysis technology that reduces pauses during CPR, allowing for improved blood circulation and better odds of survival. Using Wi-Fi connectivity, these self-monitoring devices can send near real-time event data, including a patient’s heart rhythm and delivered shocks, to incoming emergency services or receiving hospitals, thus allowing for post-event evaluation to improve care delivery.
The Helmsley Charitable Trust and BETS recognize that many law enforcement agencies currently own AEDs. For each agency that has one or more AEDs through the IDPH/BETS local public health, hospital and EMS coalitions, BETS will assist with guidance and access to resources to redistribute existing AEDs to local public community organizations that lack access.
The extreme time sensitivity of cardiac arrest makes it imperative that all responders within the out-of-hospital “Chain of Survival” have the tools, technology, and training to maximize the chance of survival and recovery for victims of cardiac arrest. The six links in chain, according to the American Heart Association, are:
- Recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system
- Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with an emphasis on chest compressions
- Rapid defibrillation
- Basic and advanced emergency medical services
- Advanced life support and post-cardiac arrest care
- Recovery (including additional treatment, observation, rehabilitation, and psychological support)
The staff at BETS is committed to working with law enforcement agencies to assure the first three steps of the chain are maximized.
About the Helmsley Charitable Trust
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed nearly $3 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel. To date, this program has awarded more than $500 million to organizations and initiatives in the upper Midwest states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa, and Montana. For more information, visit www.helmsleytrust.org.
 American Heart Association CPR and First Aid-Emergency Cardiovascular Care: https://cpr.heart.org/en/resources/cpr-facts-and-stats/out-of-hospital-chain-of-survival