Editorial: Arm cops with AEDs

The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted8/15/2013 5:00 AM

Hero stories inspire us to want to help others.

The story of Ed and Nancy Sullivan of Addison and their heroine, Maria Reyes, is no different. The Sullivans want to be sure that cops like Reyes have the tools they need to save people as she helped Ed last week.


Daily Herald Staff Writer Josh Stockinger wrote for Sunday's editions about the Sullivans and their harrowing brush with death.

Ed was driving himself and his wife to a church meeting on a Monday evening in their new hometown when he suffered a massive heart attack. The 49-year-old began veering toward oncoming traffic, which was when Nancy noticed something very wrong. "I thought, 'Why does he have his hands up by his neck?,'" she told Stockinger. "He appeared to be snoring, and that threw me for a loop. All of a sudden, I thought, 'He can't breathe.'"

His foot slammed on the gas, but she was able to downshift the big pickup -- as he'd recently taught her -- and steer it off the road to a stop.

A group of good Samaritans immediately helped by calling 911, performing CPR on Ed and calming Nancy.

By this time, the life had drained from Ed's eyes. The miracles just kept coming, though.

Maria Reyes, a 16-year police veteran, was on patrol nearby when the 911 call came in, and she was first on the scene. Now, Reyes is a CPR instructor and also teaches people how to use automated external defibrillators, those lunchbox-sized pre-charged heart starters you may find at your gym or office building.

She leapt from her squad with her AED, rushed to Ed, who she was convinced was already dead, gave him a few heart compressions and then, with Nancy's help, applied the AED's patches to Ed and gave him a jolt. The color returned to his face instantly.

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Ed is now on the mend after having an angioplasty and getting a cardiac stent, but despite the string of good fortune that came right after his heart attack -- Nancy knowing how to get the truck off the road and stopped, the good Samaritans willing and able to help, and a well-trained cop being close by -- there is a pretty good chance Ed would be dead today if Reyes hadn't had an AED and been trained in how to use it.

Nancy said she hopes Ed's story will prompt more police agencies to equip and train all officers with AEDs.

The American Heart Association advocates that all ambulances be equipped with an AED or another defibrillating device. It also recommends they be placed in public areas like sports arenas, shopping malls, office complexes and the like.

They cost between $1,200 and $2,000 apiece and have a useful life of 10 years.

Given the frequency with which police officers are first to the scene of accidents and other calls in which people are injured, it seems a pretty reasonable price to pay to save a few lives.

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