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LOCKPORT – A Lockport couple who lost their 3-year-old son to a congenital heart defect have donated three defibrillators to the Lockport Police Department for use in patrol cars.

The automatic external defibrillators are gifts from Drew’s Heart Foundation, named after Brian and Colleen Roths’ son, who died in 2010. Each unit cost about $2,000.

Officer Matthew Streckewald contacted the Roths about a year ago, after learning of the virtues of defibrillators during a cardiopulmonary resuscitation course.

“There was a need for it in the city,” Streckewald said.

Police Chief Lawrence M. Eggert said only a defibrillator can restart a stopped heart and that it must be done quickly or the heart can’t be restarted at all.

“Minutes count,” Colleen Roth said.

Eggert said that while Lockport police officers have customarily relied on the Fire Department’s ambulances at a cardiac scene, sometimes the patrol cars arrive first.

Now, it’s possible for an officer to grab the defibrillator unit out of his car and set it up, or even use it himself, before the ambulance arrives with more elaborate life support gear.

“It’s a seamless transition,” Eggert said.

All officers and civilian employees in the Police Department received eight hours of training in use of the units. They were placed in patrol cars about three weeks ago.

Colleen Roth said Drew’s Heart Foundation previously donated defibrillators for placement at the Lockport Little Loop football field in Outwater Park and at Carousel Park in Olcott.

Drew’s Heart Foundation also has provided scholarships to preschoolers to attend the YWCA of Niagara’s playroom, as well as donating toys to that program. It holds occasional blood drives and collects donations of children’s books.

Donations to Drew’s Heart Foundation may be sent to the Lockport Schools Federal Credit Union, 360 S. Transit St., Lockport, NY 14094.

So far, no police officer has had to use the defibrillators, but it’s only a matter of time – time that could save a life.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com