Defibrillator campaign outfits one PD; six to go

By on August 6, 2013

Contributors to the campaign for defribrillators.

Contributors to the campaign for defibrillators.

This past June, while researching an article on the Moongate subdivision, I interviewed one of SAGA Construction’s principal partners, Sumit Gupta.

After we were finished discussing Moongate, Gupta asked me to stay longer to discuss another issue he had spent a lot of time thinking about.

He said SAGA, headquartered on the Outer Banks, wanted to do more for the community, especially the Kill Devil Hills police and fire departments.

In May, one of SAGA’s supervisors collapsed on a job site.

As fate would have it, Kill Devil Hills Police Capt. Mark Evans had just left the Jolly Roger after eating breakfast. When he heard the radio dispatch, he realized he was just moments away from the scene.

Evans, who began working in public safety as a volunteer firefighter at age 15 and trained as a medical technician by the time he turned 18, had the only portable defibrillator deployed in a police car along the entire Outer Banks.

He was much closer to the scene than EMS or fire crews and he was able to revive the victim after administering three “charges” to the distressed SAGA employee.

When Gupta foud out that defibrillators are not deployed in all KDH police cars, he decided to do something about it.

SAGA has created the SAGA Community Fund to help the community fill just such needs.

The first check: Amit Gupta, Sumit Gupta, Chief Gary Britt and Sheriff Doug Doughtie.

The first check: Amit Gupta, Sumit Gupta, Chief Gary Britt and Sheriff Doug Doughtie.

Gupta met with town officials, including KDH mayor Sheila Davies, town manager Debbie Diaz and Police Chief Gary Britt. He was told each unit was $500 and the police department had 15 cars that would need to be outfitted.

Gupta then decided to expand the program to all Outer Banks police departments. He reached out to Dare County Sheriff Doug Doughtie and other police officials.

On July 30, SAGA kicked off a fundraiser by inviting a number of local business leaders to a breakfast to explain the program. Also there was Evans and Dewey Parr, the SAGA employee he saved.

A video produced by KDHPD investigator John Towler re-enacted the event.

In remarks to the crowd, Britt noted that police units are always rolling, and “such devices would make a huge difference in first responders.”

He also praised Evans, saying he was the type of law enforcement officer who goes above the call of duty and is always ready for the demands of the job.

Doughtie echoed Britt’s remarks. He made clear that the role of EMS and fire crews in lifesaving and first response could not be replaced, but he reminded the gathering that putting these units in police and deputies cars could make a “difference where seconds, not minutes” count.

At the end of the meeting, Gupta surprised the crowd by presenting a $12,500 check, collected from a number of local businesses, which he said would complete the goal of equipping every KDHPD car with a defibrillator unit.

He urged the attendees to take up the cause and work to raise enough money to equip all 60 Dare County police and sheriff units with the device.

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