Donated defibrillators boost police response for heart emergencies

Constable Brandaughn Phillips, Cayman Heart Fund’s Colleen Dahlstrom, Heart Fund Chairman David Dinner, Acting Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis and Special Constable Jayse Wilson

The Police Service received a donation of 20 automatic external defibrillators, AEDs for short, this week from the Cayman Heart Fund.

An AED is a portable device that when hooked up to someone in a cardiac emergency, can diagnose a heart attack based on the rhythm of the heart and treat them with “defibrillation,” an electrical shock to return the heart to a normal rhythm. A project from the Cayman Heart Fund has brought more than 120 AEDs to the Cayman Islands.

Acting Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis, in a press release, said, “One of the primary duties of a police officer is to protect and save lives; therefore, these generous donations by the Cayman Heart Fund will add to the tools available to our first responders to render critical first aid to a victim experiencing a cardiac condition.”

Mr. Ennis continued, “The life we save might be our own, as police officers work under very stressful and difficult circumstances. These devices have also been placed throughout our police estates and are readily available if needed. Civilian staff as well as police [are] receiving training in First-Aid, CPR and AED.”

The statement from police notes an incident last year when police were first on the scene when a man collapsed in his North Side home. Officers were able to resuscitate the man with CPR until an ambulance arrived, but an AED would have been more effective to treat the heart attack.

David Dinner, who chairs the board at the Cayman Heart Fund, said, “In order to increase the ability of first responders to react to a cardiac event, they must have the ability to use an AED right away, generally within the first three minutes.”

The Cayman Heart Fund has a program to sell AEDs in Cayman for, what Mr. Dinner called, “a slight profit.” The organization takes that profit and for every 10 AEDs it sells, it can donate one. The Heart Fund has already donated AEDs to every public school in the islands.

The AED program, which began in 2008, also includes training on how to use the devices, which is part of standard CPR certification. The Cayman Heart Fund teamed up with St. Matthews University to train groups on CPR and AED. The Cayman Islands Red Cross offers regular training courses combining first aid, CPR and AED.