MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Consider it a donation from the heart.
On Wednesday evening, members of the Upper Allen Township Police Department received a donation of a new automatic external defibrillator, or AED. The life-saving device was gifted to police by members of the Peyton Walker Foundation, named for an Upper Allen teen who passed away in 2013.
“Peyton was a student pursuing a degree in health care to become a physicians assistant, so it was her mission to serve the community,” said Julie Walker, a foundation founder and Peyton’s mother. “We see this as a way to continue her legacy.”
Just 19-years-old, Peyton was an adventurous teen with a love for outdoor sports like snowboarding and rock climbing. Her life was lost when she suffered a fatal sudden cardiac arrest incident related to a genetic heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
“Unfortunately, sudden cardiac arrest is the number one killer of student-athletes in our country,” said Julie. “Every three days, we lose a student.”
Since its formation, the Peyton Walker Foundation has supplied AEDs to sports teams at Trinity High School in Camp Hill, Peyton’s alma mater. Additionally, the organization has provided free heart screenings for local student-athletes, and donations of medical training equipment to Kings College in Wilkes-Barre, where Peyton was studying at the time of her passing.
“It’s a credit to the Walker family,” said Upper Allen Township police Sergeant Andy Parsons, who says the donation of the AED couldn’t come at a better time. “We recently took one of our older units out of service, so we were looking for someone to help us obtain a new one.”
The price of a new AED can range from more than $1,000 to $3,000. The foundation is able to acquire the equipment at a discount for charitable purposes. Upper Allen officers have been equipped with AEDs in their patrol vehicles for approximately ten years, and have used them on several occasions, according to Parsons.
“I recall one instance when a motorist went off the road,” he said. “We got a call of a crash, and an officer arrived on scene, pulled the motorist from the vehicle. Right along Route 15, he applied the pads from the AED, delivered shock, and saved that man’s life.”
For Julie, every donation of an AED means a chance that Peyton’s early loss of life could lead to the saving of someone else like her in the future. For police, learning the story behind their newest piece of equipment gives them a feeling that a guardian angel is on patrol with them.