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Police officer working to equip every cop with an AED

Posted at 10:22 PM, Jan 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-25 00:27:10-05

GILBERT, AZ — On May 18, 2018 Charles Poole says he was just enjoying a routine day with his family when he suffered a cardiac arrest.

"We went to a movie that day, I was just doing chores around the house. Changing out the garbage disposal because it went out. The kids were gone, my wife was home and then I died. That's it. I collapsed and she heard me fall," said Poole.

That is all he remembers of the day he went into cardiac arrest. His wife Lisa picks up the rest of the story.

"You know you always think of that time, if anything like this happened would you be able to go through with doing CPR on your loved one?" said Lisa Poole, still shaken up by the whole experience.

After a few compressions, Lisa said she saw her husband's chest start to rise so she called 911. Gilbert police officer Jason Langland was there within two minutes.

Langland who works as a detective in the department's crime suppression unit and was filling an empty spot in patrol that day. He got the "hot tone" and jumped into action.

"Every time you hear that tone your heart starts to race, you just never know what it's going to be," said Langland.

Thankfully he had a lot of experience performing CPR and was able to jump in and start chest compressions until paramedics arrived, just a few minutes behind him.

The fire department had the life saving AED defibrillator they used to help save Poole's life.

When Cottonwood police officer Brandon Griffith heard this story, it touched a chord. He too was a survivor of sudden cardiac arrest.

"I was 26 years old when I survived my cardiac arrest. It hit me like a freight train. I collapsed within a second or two, but to me everything just went in extreme slow motion," said Griffith.

Griffith's wife, Melissa, a nurse, helped save his life by performing CPR on him until a police officer, who beat medics to the call was able to take over.

Griffith said it made him realize, police are often the first responders on the scene when a person goes into cardiac arrest, and at a time when seconds truly count, AED defibrillators could help them save more lives.

Statistics show majority of these cardiac arrest calls end in death. The survival rate is very low.

Griffith did not want to waste his second chance at life. With his wife, the two founded the organization Griffith Blue Heart.

The organization's goal is to train, prepare, and equip law enforcement agencies for emergency cardiac response.

Griffith tells ABC15 "there are 141 Arizona law enforcement agencies and roughly only 10 percent have AED's. Almost none of them have fully outfitted all their field-responsive officers (patrol, SRO's community outreach, etc.)"

Griffith said he had worked with many agencies to help them write grants and find creative ways to get funding for AED defibrillators for their patrol cars. He said so far 15 agencies have units out in the field. Some of these agencies include Buckeye, Sedona, Goodyear, Page, and Cottonwood.

"I want to get AED's on every single patrol vehicle in the state of Arizona," said Griffith.

Griffith Blue Heart also awards first responders who have saved a person's life. That is how Griffith got involved with Charles Poole, from Gilbert.

Poole told Griffith he really wanted to meet the first responders who had saved his life. Once Griffith made the phone calls, the wheels turned quickly. Both Gilbert police and firefighters were eager to meet the man who they had helped save.

Upon meeting them, the first question Poole had was "who's the tough guy that broke my ribs?"

Langland said it was not uncommon for ribs to get injured or break from the impact of chest compressions, but it was what also saves your life.

Griffith said he is now working with the town of Gilbert on funding to equip their patrol cars with defibrillators.

A Gilbert police spokeswoman confirmed they were in the early stages of this discussion.

"It would be huge for them to have that, another life saving tool in their best, so to speak," said Poole.