LA PORTE, Ind. – Every law enforcement vehicle in LaPorte County now has a life-saving automatic external defibrillator (AED) in it thanks to a successful partnership between three collaborating organizations.

Representatives from Bolt for the Heart, Franciscan Health Michigan City and the Play for Jake Foundation gathered in La Porte Tuesday to present 26 AEDs to seven law enforcement agencies to be placed in their squad cars. The AEDs were purchased with funds generated by the Bolt for the Heart walk/run Oct. 14 in La Porte, sponsored by Franciscan Health Michigan City.

The presentations of the AEDS to the police departments from Long Beach, Trail Creek, Purdue University Northwest, Kingsford Heights, Westville, Kingsbury, Pottawattomie Park and the City of La Porte complete the Bolt for the Heart walk/run goal of placing a unit in every LaPorte County squad car.

Since the program began, 165 AEDs have been placed in LaPorte County squad cars at a total cost of roughly $330,000, Bolt for the Heart Founder Pierre Twer said.

Tuesday’s presentation makes LaPorte County one of three Indiana counties with an AED in every law enforcement vehicle.

“This doesn’t happen without the support and vision of Franciscan Health,” Twer said. “(Franciscan Health Michigan City President and CEO) Dean Mazzoni sat down with me with this vision and here we are reaching this goal today.”

Mazzoni said Tuesday’s donations are, “an example of how organizations can come together with a common vision to achieve a common goal.”

Each year, sudden cardiac arrest kills 335,000 people of all ages and fitness levels without warning. Ninety five percent of those who suffer sudden cardiac arrest die because CPR and defibrillation are not administered quickly enough.

If the first person on the scene knew CPR and applied an AED within five minutes, the American Heart Association estimates at least 40,000 more lives per year could be saved.

“As you know, law enforcement out in the field is first on the scene so often,” City of La Porte Police Chief Paul Brettin said. “Officers know how important this is.”

Julie West, founder of the Play for Jake Foundation, said the awareness raised by the project is key. West’s son, Jake, died on the La Porte High School practice field as the result of an undetected heart condition in 2013.

“It’s important to raise awareness on having readily available AEDs in our community,” West said. “Having our first responders equipped with these lifesaving devices, lives will be saved.”

La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody agreed that preparedness is key.

“When seconds count, we’re ready,” Dermody said. “We will hear soon enough that (local law enforcement officers) are saving a life.”

Twer encouraged anyone over 40 with qualifying risk factors to take advantage of Franciscan Health’s $49 heart scans to learn more about their cardiac health. More information is available online or by calling (833) 238-0688.