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Officer saves fellow officer

By Julie Manganis

Staff writer

PEABODY -- Veteran cop John Brown owes his life today to quick-thinking friends trained in CPR -- and to a briefcase-sized piece of medical equipment that he believes ought to be standard equipment for all police cruisers.

Brown, 64, of Whitman, was enjoying a meal with his girlfriend and another couple at Carrabba's Italian Grill on Route 1 in Peabody Saturday night when he suddenly slumped against his girlfriend's shoulder, then stopped breathing.

But thanks to a portable defibrillator in the trunk of Peabody Patrolman Al Scotina's cruiser, Brown is now recovering at New England Medical Center in Boston, "getting better each day," he said.

One of his friends, retired police officer Rick Ingersoll of Saugus, immediately realized that Brown was having a heart attack. He started CPR. He and a second man, Jerry Ganczuk of Lynn, were having difficulty keeping Brown breathing, however. Then, moments later, Scotina arrived, toting the defibrillator, Lt. Joseph Berardino said.

The device delivers a controlled electrical shock through electrodes applied to a person's chest, to restore a normal heart rhythm. Scotina used the device to restore Brown's pulse.

Billy Kinch, a paramedic who is operations supervisor for North Shore Ambulance, said "Everything that needed to happen did. He's very lucky to be alive."

Yesterday, Brown, a 34-year veteran of the Boston Police Department, was in good spirits.

He said he was grateful to Scotina, as well as to Ingersoll, Ganczuk and a still-unknown nurse who also helped.

Doctors have told him he was lucky that he was where he was when he had his heart attack -- with someone who knew CPR and with an officer equipped with a defibrillator literally moments away on Route 1.

"It's a godsend," he said. "I just want to thank him myself."

Police in other North Shore communities, including Salem and Beverly, also carry the devices. Yet, despite their value, many departments still do not have the equipment or cannot afford to put it in all of their cruisers.

Berardino said Peabody's portable defibrillators were purchased with a grant from the J.B. Thomas Trust at a cost of about $35,000. The city has also been acquiring more of them through the state Department of Public Safety, and now has one in each marked cruiser, as well as in many of the unmarked cars.

In recent years, the defibrillators, which are about the size of a large briefcase, have come down in price somewhat, ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 each.

Officers in Peabody have been trained to use them for about the past two years and have used them to save patients at least six times, said Chief Robert Champagne. "This is a remarkable product."

Brown shared that assessment and believes all cops should have them available for emergencies. "Get the message out," he said.

Scotina, meanwhile, may be in for a commendation, the chief said.

Brown said he wants an opportunity to thank Scotina, who has been off duty each time he tried to contact him since Saturday.

"They say they're just doing their job," Brown said, "but just doing his job saved my life."

Staff writer Julie Manganis can be reached at (978) 338-2521 or by e-mail at [email protected].
 

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Excellent job! :thumbup:

I've heard many officers state that they want more $$$ for carrying one of these devices. As I have said before, it could save the life of one of our own, a friend or a family member. Well, here's the proof. :2c:
 

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AED's are cool.

A monkey (or cop) can use it because it's so simple. Nothing to be afraid of. I'm not so sure we need extra$$$ for carrying them though.
8)
 
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