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State gets $3.7 million in Helmsley money

By Chet Brokaw

PIERRE — Charitable grants will provide South Dakota and North Dakota hospitals and ambulance services with new lifesaving equipment to increase survival rates in cases of sudden cardiac arrest, officials said Friday.

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South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard said the Helmsley Charitable Trust is providing $3.7 million in South Dakota to buy the automated chest compression equipment, known as the LUCAS 2 Chest Compression System, which will be placed in all 50 hospitals and 124 ambulance services in the state.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said North Dakota is getting a $3 million grant from the same trust to place the devices in hospitals and ambulances across the state.

Walter Panzirer of the Helmsley Charitable Trust said South Dakota and North Dakota will be the first states to have the devices distributed border to border. The battery-operated device, which fits around a patient, uses a plunger to deliver chest compressions.

Panzirer is a former Mitchell police officer and the grandson of the late Leona Helmsley.

Daugaard said sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the nation and is fatal for 95 percent of its victims. In sudden cardiac arrest, quick CPR and chest compression are needed because a heart stops beating, Daugaard said.

“It’s a life and death situation that this responds to,” the governor said.

In rural South Dakota, an ambulance might travel 50 miles or more to get to a patient, Daugaard said.

Emergency personnel in an ambulance can quickly tire after giving manual CPR, but the new equipment will deliver consistent chest compression over an extended time, the governor said.

The new equipment also will help emergency personnel who deal only infrequently with sudden cardiac arrest.

“So, in South Dakota it’s a problem,” Daugaard said.

The grant will start delivering the equipment within about six months, with completion of the project within 2 1/2 years, Panzirer said.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust recently announced a grant of more than $1.4 million to pay for research into unmet health care services and needs in South Dakota. The trust was established by the late hotel and real estate baroness Leona Helmsley.