More than 1,500 lifesaving automatic external defibrillators will be distributed to law enforcement and first responders across Wyoming thanks to a $4 million grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, the Wyoming Department of Health announced Thursday.

The grant also includes funding to help build community and telephone CPR programs in strategic areas.

"Two things we know conclusively that save lives outside of the hospital are early defibrillation and early, high-quality CPR," said Andy Gienapp, Manager of the Wyoming Department of Health's Office of Emergency Medical Services.

"Anything we as a state can do to make those two simple and effective treatments more available to the people of Wyoming is a win," Gienapp added.

"Seconds count during a cardiac arrest," said Helmsley Trustee Walter Panzirer. "We know in Wyoming first responders often have great distances to cover. This funding will help ensure law enforcement officers who often get to a scene before EMS have the necessary equipment to give cardiac arrest victims a fighting chance for survival."

Studies have shown when the heart is first shocked by law enforcement the chances of survival are nearly 40 percent, compared to 28.6 percent survival for those who are first shocked by EMS.

Gienapp noted recognizing a cardiac event, calling 911, having dispatch-assisted CPR (as a minimum), having quick access to an AED and training the community in hands-only CPR greatly improve the survival rate of those suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest.

The AEDs will be provided to more than 90 separate organizations over the next several months, and all those who receive an AED will receive both initial and ongoing training.

Wyoming is the third state to receive comprehensive funding to place AEDs among law enforcement agencies and other first responders.

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