Lake Hamilton Police Department Receives AED from Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation
by James Coulter
Unlike other cities, Lake Hamilton’s police department is not part of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. As such, most of its funding is local and its budget is smaller. So, when the department was unable to afford an automated external defibrillator (AED) for one of its vehicles, a local organization stepped in to donate one for them.
During the Lake Hamilton City Commission meeting on Tuesday evening, the police department was presented with an AED donated by Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation, a local non-profit organization dedicated to assisting first responders and installing AEDs across the county.
The AED was presented during the town hall meeting, which also included a swearing-in ceremony for six new law enforcement officers. Melanie Brown Culpepper, the founder of Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation, offered a few remarks about the donation.
Melanie is good friends with someone whose aunt works at Lake Hamilton Town Hall. That person is Regina Pirtle, Police Operations Manager for Lake Hamilton, who had reached out to Culpepper’s Cardiac Foundation to request an AED.
“I reached out to her, and she agreed to help us on the spot,” Regina said. “It is awesome. I think what she is doing is fantastic. I am all for it.”
During her remarks, Melanie mentioned how she started her foundation following the tragic passing of her late fiancée, Michael Culpepper, who had passed away from cardiac arrest.
During her emergency call, she was asked if an AED was available, as it would have helped her fiancée during that situation. Not wanting anyone else to go through what she went through, Melanie decided to start her organization to raise funds to donate and install AEDs throughout Polk County.
“I do it all for the sake of saving lives,” Melanie said. “If I can save one person’s life, then that is worth doing.”
Chief Michael Teague highly appreciated the donation, especially considering his department’s tight budget. As the PCSO does not fund their department, they were unable to give both of their police cars. So a donation like this is greatly appreciated, he said.
“We get called daily for AED use most of the time,” he said. “The officers will be the first on the scene before the paramedics and EMTs. So, it is a much-needed thing…I think it [Culpepper’s] is an awesome program. It will save a lot of lives. Everybody should be a part of the program.”
Since starting her organization two years ago, Melanie has donated nearly two dozen AEDs throughout the county. She will be donating another AED at Brew Hounds Sports Bar in Auburndale.
She will also be hosting her fundraiser Saving Lives Matter on Sat. Sep. 16 at Tanner’s Lakeside in Winter Haven. For more information, visit her website at honoringculepper.com