By the end of year, all Minnesota State Patrol vehicles will have automatic external defibrillators, thanks in part to a $200,000 donation made by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the owners of Mystic Lake casino.
The tribe, which over the years has given away almost $100 million in charitable donations, will pay for 199 of the 499 defibrillators that will be placed in State Patrol cars. The Legislature provided the $312,000 needed to buy the remaining machines.
"In order to protect Minnesotans, we need to help equip our first responders and law enforcement," tribal Chairman Stanley Crooks said Thursday.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has been critical of the tribe's gaming operations and profits, applauded the Shakopee Sioux's donation at a morning news conference at the state Capitol.
"This public-private partnership will help state troopers across Minnesota save lives, whether they're on our highways or in a community," Pawlenty said. "We are grateful to the Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the Legislature for ... the funding."
State Patrol officials said the equipment will come in handy, especially in rural areas where troopers often are the first people to arrive at an incident or accident.
"Our ultimate goal is to prevent injuries and deaths on Minnesota's traffic corridors," says Col. Mark Dunaski, chief of the State Patrol. "We're grateful to the Mdewakanton for their generosity and concern for the welfare of all Minnesotans."
HERÓN MÁRQUEZ ESTRADA