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Organization nears goal to equip all Indiana troopers with AEDs

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — An Indianapolis organization is nearing the completion of a huge goal set eight years ago. 

Bolt for the Heart aims to put AEDs in every Indiana State Police vehicle, so those first responders are armed with the life-saving devices. This month, the organization is hosting its annual 5K with hopes to raise enough money to purchase the final 134 AEDs. 

Sudden cardiac arrest is categorized as a common cause of death and it most frequently impacts people in their 30s and 40s. Unlike a plumbing issue in the heart that may be caused be bad health, cardiac arrest is an electrical trip of the heart and if help doesn’t arrive within minutes, it’s fatal. 

For Jeff Utzinger, sudden cardiac arrest hit on June 20, 2017. 

“It was like any other day or any other morning or any other workout,” Utzinger said. 

It happened while the 46-year-old was out for a jog. 

“God put me here at that time and I asked the Lord to help me,” said Bill Schlies. 

Schlies pulled over while driving in the neighborhood after seeing Utzinger on the ground. 

“You don’t know is he passed out, did he trip, did he fall, is he having a seizure? I mean you don’t think a guy, he’s pretty thin, in pretty good shape, would be having a heart attack or cardiac arrest, you didn’t know,” Schlies said. 

When sudden cardiac arrest happens outside of a hospital, data shows nine out of ten people die. Schlies called 911 and did chest compressions while he waited for help to arrive.  

“Thankfully, we live in a community where all Carmel police officers have an AED in their cars, since they’re often the first responders,” Utzinger said. 

“He came running over with his AED and hooked it up and wham it hit him and lifted him off the ground,” Schlies said. 

Without that shock, it’s likely Utzinger never would have regained a heart beat. It came from an AED put in the hands of police by an organization called Bolt for the Heart.

“When she said, he opened his eyes when his kids walked into the room… I’m a dad,” Schlies said. 

He still gets emotional talking about that. A husband and father, so close to being taken, but given another chance.

“It is not selective on who it hits. It can be the youth, it can be the elderly, it can be the fit, it can be male, female, ethnicity, it doesn’t matter. It just strikes, something electrical just misfires and time is of the essence, getting CPR and these AEDs,” Utzinger said. “It hits me more and more and I think over time really will be more and more thankful.”

Bolt for the Heart has placed more than 600 automatic external defibrillators in the hands of law enforcement officers. 

You can help them reach their goal of having every state trooper equipped with one this year by participating in the Bolt for the Heart 5K in Carmel this Thanksgiving. Registration is open now. There is also a virtual 5K option, which allows you to run your own race whenever and where ever you like, while still supporting the organization. You still get a race medal too. 

For more information on the organization, click here.