Text/HTML

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 27, 2020

CONTACTS:
Marissa Perry, Communications Director, Governor’s Office, (406) 444-4514
Erin Loranger, Press Secretary, Governor’s Office, (406) 444-9725
Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936


Governor Bullock Announces $6 Million Grant to Provide Lifesaving Equipment to Law Enforcement

Helmsley Charitable Trust to fund 2,200 AEDs to rapidly respond to cardiac arrest emergencies

MONTANA - Governor Steve Bullock today announced a $6 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to provide 2,200 lifesaving Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) to law enforcement and first responders across the state to help improve the cardiac system of care.

“Law enforcement is often the first on the scene when responding to a patient in cardiac arrest, and time is of the essence,” Governor Bullock said. “We are grateful to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for investing in Montana to ensure law enforcement has the tools they need to save lives.”

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,” Walter Panzirer, a Helmsley Trustee, said. “We know in Montana 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.”

Montana is the second state to receive comprehensive funding to place AEDs among law enforcement agencies and other first responders. Helmsley hopes to replicate this initiative within its funding area in the Upper Midwest, as part of an ongoing effort to improve the cardiac system of care.

The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) will oversee the project. The AEDs will be provided to 135 organizations, including highway patrol, campus police, tribal law enforcement, county sheriff offices, local city police agencies, and game wardens with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks over the next several months. They will also be provided to several national, state, and county park locations for installation in visitor centers.

Rosebud County Sheriff Allen Fulton is President of the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. He said it is cost-prohibitive for most county sheriff’s offices and city police departments to purchase an AED for every patrol vehicle. For example, there are currently 77 AEDs in city police cars statewide, and now that number will be increased to 445. Sheriff’s office AEDs will increase from 268 to 840.

“Thanks to Helmsley, all county and local law enforcement patrol cars will now have an AED,” Fulton said. “This is a great opportunity for us to play an important role in saving lives when emergencies occur.”

Fulton said AEDs currently in use will be relocated within each agency or throughout communities, vastly increasing the number of AEDs accessible to the public throughout Montana.

About 356,000 Americans suffer from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest annually, including 375 in Montana, with a survival rate of 12%.

The sooner an AED is available to a patient in sudden cardiac arrest, the better the chances of survival.  Studies have shown when the heart is first shocked by law enforcement, the chances of survival are nearly 40%, compared to 28.6% survival for those first shocked by EMS.

All those who receive an AED will receive both initial and on-going training. DPHHS has eight trainings planned in the coming months on the new state-of-the-art equipment.

The AEDs to be distributed in Montana are LIFEPAK® CR2 defibrillators, designed by Stryker Corporation. The AEDs will ensure rescuers provide the fastest first shock when defibrillation is needed. The equipment features 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 shocks delivered, to incoming emergency services or receiving hospitals.

Concurrently, DPHHS will continue its efforts to promote cardiac ready communities which will aid in the ongoing sustainability of the project through focused community support and ultimately aim to increase survival rates.

DPHHS has been working with several communities to build up their capacity to be a Cardiac Ready Community. The program works to establish a strong chain of survival by evaluating each link in the chain and then improving it. Recognition of a cardiac event, calling 911, having dispatch-assisted CPR (as a minimum), having quick access to an AED, and training the community in hands-only CPR greatly improves the survival rate of those suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest.

To date, the Helmsley Charitable Trust has invested more than $418 million to improve access to quality healthcare in rural America, $70 million of that in Montana. In 2015, DPHHS received a $3.2 million gift for LUCAS™ devices, which are automatic chest compression devices used in ambulances.

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 more than $2.6 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 $418 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.