On July 31, 2010, The National Police Defense Foundation has teamed up with Drager
Respiratory Care Systems, Inc., makers of police breathalyzer machines, to provide
lifesaving breathing equipment in the form of a ventilator, to an Ecuadorian Police
Lieutenant who was shot and paralyzed in the line of duty. Lt. Sammy Vinueza has been
a quadriplegic since being shot and set on fire in 2000 while assigned to the protective
detail of the Minister of Justice. His assailants, who were never apprehended, stole the
officer’s firearm and radio as they fled, leaving him to die.

Incredibly, he survived but was relegated to a dilapidated wheel chair and a three
hundred dollar per month pension out of which he had to pay for his own medical care.
Desperate, depressed, impoverished and with little hope for a quality life, Lt. Vinueza
contacted the National Police Defense Foundation and asked for a new wheel chair.
Through the intercession of Executive Director Joseph Occhipinti and others, the NPDF
was able to get a brand new, motorized wheelchair painted in NYPD blue donated by
Sunshine Medical of California. Their incredible generosity allowed Sammy to have a
degree of independence in mobility. However, life isn’t easy for a paraplegic. Some
months ago, Sammy lost the ability to breath on his own due to his paralysis. A
desperate search was begun for a portable ventilator in his country but, due to their
socialized medical system, there were few and those that did exist, we quite dated. None
existed that were portable which meant Sammy could never leave his hospital bed and
his quality of life in his motorized wheelchair was a thing of the past.

Enter Ed Coombs, Director of Marketing for Drager Respiratory Care Systems of
North America. Sergeant Mike Barry, the NPDF’s Project Coordinator, sought a meeting
with Ed Coombs who immediately sought to find equipment suitable for this paralyzed
hero. The NPDF asked for a discount on this very expensive equipment but Ed Coombs
would not hear a word of it. This internationally renowned safety equipment company
DONATED a $25,000 ventilator and support system.

Shortly thereafter, Joe Lewarski of Invacare Corporation in Elyria, Ohio offered to
help by donating three months worth of catheters and other medical equipment for the
paralyzed policeman. Their generosity is the hallmark of what they do as
corporations…save human life; and the National Police Defense Foundation is eternally
grateful to Drager Respiratory Care Systems and Invacare for their invaluable assistance
and generosity.

Joseph Occhipinti will be flying to Ecuador on August 9th to deliver
this life saving medical equipment to Lt. Vinueza. The NPDF would like to thank all who
assisted in this endeavor especially Ed Coombs or Drager and Joe Lewarski of Invacare
for their assistance. They are true American heroes.

Sergeant Michael P. Barry
Port Authority of NY & NJ Police Department
NPDF Project Coordinator

Related Content

Click here to view Bergen Record article

Official NPDF Press Release


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