“They will be there, and they will be there in force,” Payson Police Chief Ronald Tischer declared when describing how the community responds when it comes to a need.

“It really showed off the town,” he said.

“The heart of the community,” agrees Jennifer Smith, Executive Board Member of Mogollon Health Alliance. “This is what we love about Payson... all of us. It’s that willingness to drop everything and jump in.”

Jumping in wasn’t during the easiest of circumstances this time, either. It was to respond by bringing people together during a pandemic that we were constantly advised to stay apart. However, this added anxiety didn’t stop these collaborative efforts. Between the community volunteers, Payson Police Department, and Mogollon Health Alliance, Payson has been able to execute efficiently during the COVID crisis. The testing and vaccination events held enabled earlier opportunities for battling against the virus locally.

Beyond the metaphorical heart of our community, Payson Police Department and MHA are collaborating even more by taking care of the literal hearts in our town. While all officers are already CPR certified, the goal of Chief Tischer is to have every single squad car outfitted with an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). This device creates significantly more opportunity for survival in cardiac arrest situations, mainly because police officers are the first to the scene a majority of the time. According to FDA.gov, “Defibrillation is time-sensitive. The probability of survival decreases by 7% to 10% for every minute that a victim stays in a life-threatening arrhythmia.”

When every second matters, equipping the first-to-the-scene with the life-saving tools and skills needed in cardiac arrest situations is a priority. Unfortunately, the department was unable to fit it into this year’s budget due to the extensive cost of each unit. Understanding this need, MHA was able to assist the department nearly halfway to their goal. These units will provide a seamless transition of top-quality care from the first people on the scene to the paramedics to the hospital.

“MHA is a key stakeholder when it comes to us being able to protect the people of Payson,” established the police chief. A working relationship that is already strong and will continue to thrive for years to come.

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