Law enforcement departments receive defibrillators


The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has awarded the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS) a $6.4 million grant for the distribution of Automated External Defibrillators (AED) to all law enforcement organizations throughout the state. This grant builds on the previously awarded $5.9 million grant that distributed mechanical CPR devices to Nebraska EMS services and hospitals.

Law enforcement departments that received the defibrillators and were in Wayne last week for training included:

Wayne Police Department, Wayne County Sheriff's Office, Dixon County Sheriff's Office, Emerson Police Department, Laurel Police Department, South Sioux City Police Department, Winnebago Police Department, Kimball County Sheriff's Office, Scribner Police Department, Hooper Police Department and Dodge/Snyder Police Department.

Locally, the Wayne Police Department will receive five defibrillators and the Wayne County Sheriff's Office will receive six of these units.

DHHS will oversee the distribution of 2,500 AEDs to law enforcement agencies, first responders, and state offices and facilities. The initial disbursement occurred on May 17 at the Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center in Lincoln. 

This grant allows DHHS to place lifesaving technology into the hands of those who can best utilize it. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts commented: 

“This generous grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust equips law enforcement with a valuable resource to save lives. Law enforcement officers are often the first to arrive at an accident or respond to medical emergencies. Having this equipment and training will allow them to intervene immediately during an emergency, without having to wait for the arrival of EMS personnel.”

DHHS Chief Executive Officer Dannette R. Smith echoed his sentiments.

“Putting these devices in law enforcement vehicles and state parks will reach more Nebraskans in need, saving lives,” she said. “On behalf of the state of Nebraska, I want to thank the Helmsley Charitable Trust.”

Studies conducted by the American Heart Association demonstrate a significantly higher rate of survival for cardiac patients defibrillated by law enforcement, who are generally first on the scene, especially in rural areas.

“We are excited to partner with the state of Nebraska to launch this initiative,” said Walter Panzirer, a Helmsley trustee. “We’ve seen hundreds of deployments in other states, and the data show that law enforcement are great at providing CPR. There are people alive today because of the hard work of everyone involved.” 

“Seconds really count during a cardiac arrest,” said Tim Wilson, Program Director for the DHHS Office of Emergency Health System and a licensed paramedic. “This is a big state, and first responders often have great distances to cover. This funding will ensure that those who get to the scene before EMS arrives give patients a better shot at survival.”

DHHS will distribute the AEDs to participating law enforcement agencies for primary response vehicles. In addition, master trainers will teach and refresh CPR and AED skills across 25 distribution sites. The sites have been strategically placed across Nebraska to reduce travel time for participants. Distribution of the AEDs is planned to conclude in 2022. Nebraska DHHS will manage communication regarding the training requirements and device distribution. 

AEDs are portable devices used to diagnose and treat sudden cardiac arrest through defibrillation, which re-establishes an effective heart rhythm. The AEDs selected for distribution feature technology that reduces pauses during CPR and, therefore, improves blood circulation and odds of survival. These devices can also use Wi-Fi to send near real-time information about a patient’s heart to emergency services, thus improving post-event evaluation and care.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust and DHHS encourage law enforcement agencies that already own AEDs to exchange or redistribute them to local community organizations that need them.

The extreme time sensitivity of cardiac arrest requires all responders in the out-of-hospital “Chain of Survival” to have the tools, technology, and training to maximize the odds of survival and recovery for victims of cardiac arrest. The six links in the “Chain of Survival” 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 treatment, observation, rehabilitation, and psychological support)

Additional materials surrounding this announcement can be found here:


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 $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.  

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