BLUFFTON, SC (WTOC) - The Bluffton Police Dept. received a big gift just in time for the holiday season: a piece of equipment the department was desperately in need of to help save lives.
As of Dec. 17, all 31 of the Bluffton Police Dept.'s patrol cars will be equipped with AEDs, or automated external defibrillators, which can help save someone's life who is experiencing cardiac arrest.
The Arrhythmia Alliance Campaign started in the United Kingdom, but the founder who spends time in the area decided to team up with the Bluffton Police Dept. after officers were unable to resuscitate an 8 year old that drowned.
The department said joining the campaign is important in creating safer communities.
"Because so often there are more police officers, we're usually the first ones on scene before an ambulance or even a firetruck can get there," said Bluffton Police Dept. Public Information Officer Joy Nelson. "So often you hear of police officers keeping the calm, arresting people, but we want to save lives too, and if we're the first one on the scene and we have a tool seconds away in our car that can save a life, we want to be a part of that."
The campaign kicked off back in late August, and in just eight weeks they were able to raise enough money to equip all 31 cars with money raised in the community.
Equipping the police cars is only phase one. As part of phase two, the Bluffton Township Fire District is also looking to equip its vehicles with AEDs to enhance their first responder status.
"It's a team effort. We're all here for one common goal regardless of what patches are on our arm we're here for one common goal, but not only is it good for the community but it helps us working with different agencies to build those bridges and the more and more we do it it's better for everybody," said Randy Hunter, Bluffton Township Fire District.
Jim Quance lost his 8-year-old son when he drowned in the family's swimming pool. The police were the first on scene but were unequipped to help save his life.
"Blessed. We are very blessed. We're very blessed," said Jim Quance, father of Gavin Quance.
Blessed. The one word Jim Quance used to describe the feeling after hearing that all the patrol cars with the Bluffton Police Department would be equipped with automated external defibrillators.
"They're always there first and it's incredible to have them equipped with these AEDs ready to go if they have to use them, to have to sit there and do CPR which is a 7-9 percent survival rate and the AED is 50-70 percent. It just doesn't make sense," said Jim.
Those numbers are some of the reasons the Arrhythmia Alliance was started. The founder started the charity after her daughter was diagnosed with a cardiac disorder. It's goal to change the odds.
"When someone experiences a sudden cardiac arrest you need to be performing CPR and defibrillator within 3-5 minutes the sooner the better. You have less than 10 minutes to save the life, bearing in mind the heart is stop the moment this person starts falling to the floor before someone even calls 911 so the clock is ticking so the people who get their first need to be fully equipped and now the police are," said Arrhythmia Alliance founder Trudie Lobban.
And both the fire and police departments are encouraging everybody to get on board, offering CPR classes for the average citizen. Last year the departments were able to train 800 people this year they're aiming for 1,600.