Franciscan Health Michigan City, Bolt for the Heart, Play for Jake Foundation present 40 defibrillators for local law enforcement squad cars

Franciscan Health Michigan City, Bolt for the Heart, Play for Jake Foundation present 40 defibrillators for local law enforcement squad cars

Sudden cardiac arrest takes around 335,000 lives each year of all ages and fitness levels according to the American Heart Association, and many of these deaths occur because CPR and defibrillation were unfortunately administered too late.

With a serious condition that can happen so suddenly for anyone at any time, having the tools and knowing how to act should the circumstance arise to treat someone are crucial.

Franciscan Health presents Equipment to MCPD 2023

Franciscan Health presents Equipment to MCPD 2023 30 Photos
Franciscan Health presents Equipment to MCPD 2023Franciscan Health presents Equipment to MCPD 2023Franciscan Health presents Equipment to MCPD 2023Franciscan Health presents Equipment to MCPD 2023

Law enforcement knows just how important having those tools can be, as they’re almost always the first ones on the scene when someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest. To help lower the overall number of deaths from sudden cardiac arrests across the county, the Michigan City and La Porte Police Departments came together with Franciscan Health Michigan City, Bolt for the Heart, and the Play for Jake Foundation on April 19 to place 40 automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in squad cars. The La Porte County Sheriff's Department received 20 AEDs, the Michigan City Police Department received 13, and the La Porte Police Department received six. 

“We were asked if we’d be interested in supporting this effort and we didn't hesitate,” said Dean Mazzoni, president, and CEO of Franciscan Health. “We thought it was a great idea at the time, and we still think it's a great idea. It's very important for the health and safety of everyone.”

This event was a monumental point in time especially so for Julie West, founder of the Play for Jake Foundation. West, unfortunately, lost her son, Jake West, after he passed away from an undetected heart condition at just 17 years old while at football practice in 2013. She created the foundation in his memory, as well as advocated for early heart screenings and education on AEDs. 

To help spread her foundation’s message, West became involved with organizations such as Bolt for the Heart, an Indiana 501(c)(3) nonprofit to help purchase AEDs for first responders through fundraising efforts such as sponsorships, donations, and 5K and half marathons. Through this, she developed a close friendship with La Porte native and President of Bolt from the Heart Pierre Twer, who helped West become involved with making this huge step happen for local law enforcement.

“I think when we all have such a great mission, it will bring us together,” West said. “With these devices in all of our first responders' cars, I feel like our communities are safer because they are the first ones normally on the scene, and if someone goes into sudden cardiac arrest, they have these devices to save a life.”

David Cooney, chief of services with the Michigan City Police Department, is extremely thankful for the set of AEDs received from this event and noted many on his team also share his enthusiasm for Bolt for the Heart and spreading awareness on the importance of this life-saving tool. Now all Michigan City police officers will be equipped with the necessary tools to help save a life should they encounter someone suffering from sudden cardiac arrest. 

“The 13 that we're getting are going to outfit our detectives, most of whom are here today,” Cooney said. “That outfits us completely 100% for the officers that we currently have. It's a great benefit for Michigan City to have that availability.”

Michigan City Mayor Duane Parry was beaming with pride alongside his city’s police officers as well. Knowing that law enforcement officials will have more resources at hand to help save lives is an incredible thing for the community to have, and he is extremely thankful for the AEDs that Franciscan provided to help improve the well-being of the city.

“It's a fabulous thing,” Parry said. “I think it’s going to enhance the image of the police, which will have a positive impact, and I cannot think of a feeling of satisfaction that could be greater than having saved a person’s life. If the police can provide the initial care to keep that person alive, then you can bring in the other professionals, the EMTs, and they work to help stabilize the person, so nothing but good can come from this event today.”

Funds raised through Bolt for the Heart, sponsored by Franciscan Health, made it possible to purchase the AEDs for the police. In 2022, the organization had 350 runners and walkers, together raising $50,000 to help save lives across the area.

“We hope they never get used, but if they do get used and someone does have a sudden cardiac arrest, our hometown heroes, our law enforcement officers, are trained in first aid CPR and these tools help them raise survival percentages with AEDs,” Twer said.

Registration is now open for the Bolt for the Heart 5/10K run on October 14, which plans to raise even more funds for life-saving tools such as the AEDs for first responders, schools, and other organizations and locations throughout La Porte County and Northwest Indiana. For more information, visit

Franciscan Health additionally offers 10-minute, non-invasive $49 heart scans with a free heart risk assessment included with every screening. For more information on how to register for a simple checkup that could save a life, visit

For more information on the Michigan City Police Department, visit