"He was working undercover and the suspect kicked him in the chest; it was a cold night - everything worked against him," said Kilroy. "If his partner had a defibrillator in the squad car, he might still be alive."
Defibrillators are known to improve survival outcomes when cardiac arrest occurs. AEDs (automated external defibrillators) work by giving the heart a controlled electric shock and forcing all the heart muscles to contract at once in order to jolt it back to a regular rhythm. The average survival rate of cardiac arrest is 5 percent. Fast treatment with a defibrillator, along with CPR, greatly improves survival, according to the American Heart Association. "I just wanted to do something that would help everybody," said Kilroy.
Learning how to fundraise
Originally, Kilroy wanted to do a fundraiser to secure funds for the AEDs, but because of a national policy of the Boy Scouts of America, he himself could not do that. He called the Secaucus Rotary Club. They agreed to do the actual event, but with the stipulation that Kilroy had to do all the organizing.
"I learned a lot. It takes a lot more than it looks like to do something like that," said Kilroy. First the 17-year-old decided to have a Pancake Breakfast. Since he needed a place to hold it and his father, Kevin, was a volunteer fireman at Washington Hook and Ladder on County Avenue, that was where it was held. His father also came in handy to help supply a raffle prize. He is kitchen manager at Outback Steak House on Harmon Meadow Boulevard. The owner, Regan Uriate, kicked in dinner for six. Wendy's on Meadowlands Parkway donated forks, cups, spoons, and napkins.
"Bobby Egan printed the fundraiser and raffle tickets, Thurmann's Meats and Steffens Provisions Garage donated food - he got a lot of the community involved," said Mr. Kilroy. Dad also did the cooking.
The fundraiser brought in $3,500. The Rotary Club was able to purchase two defibrillators, and Kilroy presented them to the Police Department at a VFW dinner in the end of October.
"This is great for us, a good start," said Det. Sgt. Mike Reinke. "We hope to have one in every car by next spring."
Reinke said the entire department will eventually be trained on the use of the defibrillator with updated training sessions. As many as one in five people who have a cardiac arrest do so in a public place, and therefore stand to benefit by having defibrillators readily available.
Long term service
Eric's mother, Diane Kilroy, works as a dispatcher at Secaucus Police Department. She said Eric has been in the Boy Scouts "since he was 4 years old" when his brother Matt was in the organization.
"We always supported them in everything they wanted to do," said Mrs. Kilroy. "Matt was not interested, but Eric liked it a lot."
The elder Mr. Kilroy is a lifelong scouting participant and enthusiast.
"We always told them if they started something that have to stick with it a year," said Mr. Kilroy. "Eric went way beyond that. He has 40 scouting badges."
Eric also started to work at various Scout camps in Pennsylvania and New York State in 2003 as a counselor in training, an unpaid position. He teaches 11 to 17-year-olds the rudiments of nature merit badge acquisition. "I made a lot of friends in summer camp," Eric said. "I'm still good friends with a guy from Totowa and Philadelphia."
The industrious teenager also has followed in his brother's footsteps and received a EMT certificate in January. While he is too young to work in the field, he said the four month training course was good to have, so if "I wanted to go into it, I'd have the skill."
Eric Kilroy said his future plans could include study at NJIT in Newark or the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. He said he is interested in technology and computers.
"I think it's wonderful that he stuck with it all these years," said Mrs. Kilroy. "He's very respectful and hardworking."