AMESBURY — It goes without saying that when someone is having a heart attack, a few seconds can mean the difference between life or death. That point was clearly driven home last September when a police officer used a portable defibrillator to help revive a local man who collapsed while playing golf at the Amesbury Country Club.
Police officer Jason Kooken's cruiser was one of three in the department equipped with the lifesaving device that essentially shocks the heart into resuming its normal rhythm. But very soon the number of portable defibrillators in the department will double thanks to the generosity of The Provident Bank and the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank, which will be donating $4,000 later today for that purpose.
Portable defibrillators have been a standard piece of equipment in Amesbury police cruisers for more than four years, as they are in an increasing number of police departments across the country. The first three defibrillators were also acquired through the generosity of the same two banks that gave the department funds back in 2007. Defibrillators are also located inside the School Street police station, and every member of the department, including support staff, is trained and retrained yearly in their use.
Amesbury police Chief Mark Gagnon said after the September incident, he approached the two banks about perhaps donating additional funds to help the department purchase more units.
"It was only the luck of the draw that the closest cruiser had a portable defibrillator in it," Gagnon said.
Gagnon added he was very grateful to the banks for stepping up again to help his department, illustrating once again the strong partnership the banks have with the community in general.
"This is certainly an example of that," Gagnon said.
The units, which should arrive by February, will be stored inside a police supervisor vehicle, while another will be placed inside another line cruiser. The third will remain in a backpack and taken to the Amesbury Days block party, the town's evening of fireworks and other community-wide events, according to Gagnon.