SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — All law enforcement officers in South Dakota will be equipped with a life-saving piece of equipment to help people having a heart attack, courtesy of private funding from a family trust.
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, in a $3.6 million grant, will equip all law enforcement in the state with 1,200 portable automated external defibrillators by the end of the year, part of a plan to do the same for all law enforcement in upper Midwest states.
The defibrillators, also known as AEDs, are used by first responders to quickly shock patients suffering from a heart attack. The devices also communicate information on a patient's heart function to emergency services or hospitals.
The grant, facilitated through the South Dakota Department of Health, includes training. The money will be used to place the devices in police vehicles, conservation officers' vehicles and at critical locations in state parks. Similar devices that the Helmsley Trust has previously provided law enforcement will be distributed elsewhere to be available to the public.
“This partnership with the Helmsley Charitable Trust will allow us to get life-saving tools and training into the hands of state, tribal, county and municipal law enforcement agencies,” said Marty Link, director of EMS and trauma at the South Dakota Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health, in a news release. “With Helmsley’s support, South Dakotans can be better prepared to respond to cardiac arrests and save lives.”
The Helmsley Charitable Trust is a frequent contributor to health care resources in the upper Midwest through its rural health care program and has contributed $110 million in South Dakota.
Walter Panzirer, a Helmsley trustee, is a South Dakota resident, operates a hunting lodge near Pierre and previously worked as an EMT.
“Getting these new AEDs into the hands of those most likely to arrive first on the scene of a cardiac arrest will help save lives,” said Panzirer, in a news release.
He said the trust's distribution of defibrillators to law enforcement in South Dakota is the first step in its plans to give the devices to law enforcement in the remaining six states in Helmsley’s funding area in the upper Midwest: North Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and Montana.