Tufts Police Officers Receive Award for Saving a Life

Responding to an injured cardiac arrest victim in Grafton, Brett Morava and Glenn McCune used a defibrillator to bring his heart back to life

Two members of the Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) recently received awards for their efforts last year that helped save the life of a worker who had been injured by an electrical arc explosion and had gone into cardiac arrest.

On a Friday morning in late August, a person working on a high-power electrical line on a road that intersects the Grafton campus went into cardiac arrest following a power line accident. His work crew members flagged down Branden Etheridge, a facilities manager at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, as he drove by, asking for help.

Etheridge contacted Susan Robinson, a facilities coordinator at Cummings School, via facilities radio communications, asking for backup from the TUPD for the victim, whose heart had stopped beating. Officer Brett Morava and Lt. Glenn McCune had been trained in using an automated external defibrillator (AED), a machine used to treat cardiac arrest. The AED restores a normal heart rhythm by sending an electric shock to the heart.

When McCune and Morava arrived, CPR was being done. Using the AED machine, they determined that an electrical shock was needed, and administered the defibrillator. The victim’s heart began beating again, and he was transported to an area hospital for further treatment.

For their efforts, McCune and Morava received the Lifesaving Award in December from the Massachusetts Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

“We felt relieved that we were able to be a small part in the long chain of emergency responders, and that we were able to all work together and save a person’s life,” says McCune.

It wasn’t the first time that McCune and Morava had been called to use the defibrillator to help save a life. In 2018, they used the AED while on duty to save a Tufts employee who had gone into cardiac arrest. That employee lived and recently retired. For that effort, they also received a Lifesaving Award from the MACLEA. “We felt rewarded that the patients in these events did go on to survive,” McCune says.

He noted that before being trained on the AED, they had administered CPR on individuals in need, but unsuccessfully. Having the defibrillator made all the difference. “It was only after we got the AED units that we were able to bring people back—and the AED has been used successfully on other campuses as well,” McCune says. “Brett and I had the AED on our last two calls for patients in cardiac arrest, and both people survived.”

“Lt. McCune and Officer Morava both remained calm in a very stressful situation and they both relied on their training,” says Yolanda Smith, executive director of public safety. “Collaboration and community service are what progressive policing is all about. The oath that our officers take reaches beyond Tufts, and they are often called upon to assist in the surrounding communities for medical events, mental health crisis calls, domestic violence, and more. It’s important that we continue to train and to learn how to best handle these events in the most compassionate, holistic way.”

After talking with McCune and Morava, Smith says that “they both felt their acts were all in a day’s work to assist someone in need. While that might be true, their dedication and representation of Tufts University are commendable and deeply appreciated.”

Taylor McNeil can be reached at taylor.mcneil@tufts.edu.

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