October 27, 2021

How Our Relationship With Nevada Highway Patrol Saves Lives

Written by: Kelley McClellan

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At Nevada Donor Network (NDN), our mission is to end the wait for the thousands of people who need a life-saving organ transplant. To meet this goal, we’re always seeking new partnerships to help educate the community on the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation. Our out-of-hospital partners, like the Nevada Department of Public Safety and Nevada Highway Patrol, aren’t required to work with us, but they choose to because they believe in our mission and want to do their part to help save and heal lives. 

We’re Making a Difference Together

Our partnership with the Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) brings us closer to meeting our goal every year. NHP became one of our first law enforcement referring partnerships in 2015. Since then, we’ve been working together to educate troopers and dispatchers on organ, eye and tissue donation. This makes a difference in our community because of timely referrals and how it drives public education efforts. 

NDN Educates Cadets About Organ, Eye & Tissue Donation

NDN provides donation-related education for cadets during their academy, so they have vital information before they ever go on duty. This gives cadets an opportunity to ask questions as they learn about NDN and how organ, eye and tissue donation can impact many lives. This education is approved through the Nevada Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), which is an accrediting agency for law enforcement. This education also creates a donation positive culture within our law enforcement community which leads to more lives saved and healed.

Our Program Helps Bring Closure After a Fatality 

Our statewide partnership benefits the community because troopers who respond to fatalities learn how to refer potential donors to NDN. Witnessing fatalities can be difficult for troopers, but they can gain a sense of closure knowing other lives could be saved through donation. Additionally, this allows NDN to honor the wishes of registered heroic donors and gives grieving families the opportunity to choose donation for their loved ones. NDN also informs the troopers of the outcome of their referrals so they can see the impact they’ve made. Dozens of people can be helped by the generosity of one donor, which can be comforting for a trooper who may be struggling with what they witnessed.

When troopers or dispatchers make a referral, NDN is able to get in touch with the family and provide comprehensive support through the donation process. This also gives the referring trooper more peace of mind knowing that the heroic donor’s families are being cared for.

How Our Partnership Has Evolved Since 2015

Since our partnership began, we’ve evolved from a referral-based collaboration to one that’s driven by community awareness. NHP and the Department of Public Safety are strong advocates for helping us educate the community about the importance of registering to be a hero. In fact, each year, their academies require cadets to complete community projects that help educate the public about donation while encouraging registration. This commitment has generated many new donor registrations, which brings hope to those waiting on a life-saving transplant. 

Troopers and cadets have regularly joined NDN at  local events to register people as organ, eye and tissue donors. In 2017, NHP was able to register over 800 Nevadans at a game between UNLV and UNR, which is Nevada’s record for registering the most donors in a single event.

Our relationship with NHP is mutually beneficial. NDN seeks to support their efforts within the community through event sponsorships, educational programs and positive media coverage. We are just as dedicated to helping them achieve their goals.

Other Law Enforcement Partnerships 

NDN also partners with other law enforcement agencies. We have a relationship with nearly every rural sheriff’s office in Nevada and a partnership with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s (LVMPD) traffic bureau. These partnerships are similar to our collaboration with the Nevada Highway Patrol, and help ensure we can save and heal more lives through donation.

Many organ procurement organizations like NDN don’t have these types of relationships with law enforcement to help further their cause. This high level of cooperation and collaboration that we have with our law enforcement partners is so unique that it has been recognized with several national awards. We are able to use these existing partnerships to extend our reach across the state, therefore maximizing support for our mission in a way that’s incredibly valuable. 

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Operation Lifesaver

Operation Lifesaver is one story that really highlights how committed NHP is to our mission. Las Vegas just welcomed its first professional hockey team, the Vegas Golden Knights (VGK)  in 2017. In 2018, the team was in the playoffs the same weekend as the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC). These were both huge events taking place in the city, so there wasn’t enough emergency medical transport available, and traffic was just horrendous.

That weekend, NDN had an organ recovery occur at Valley Hospital and was having difficulty arranging timely transport from emergency medical services due to the traffic situation. Organ transport is extremely time-sensitive. Our team needed to get the ultimate gift, a pair of lungs. to the airport right away. We reached out to NHP and asked for help with transportation. They were able to send a trooper, who used lights and sirens to get through traffic and successfully delivered the heroic donor’s lungs to the airport in time to reach their grateful recipient. This is one amazing example of how our relationship with the NHP really makes a difference. 

Be a Life Saver And Register as an Organ And Tissue Donor Today

With the support of the Nevada Highway Patrol and other partners like them, Nevada Donor Network is able to reach more members of our Nevada Strong community to spread awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation. We won’t rest until no Americans have to wait for an organ transplant. One donor can help save up to eight lives through organ donation and heal 75 lives or more through tissue donation. Register and be a hero today! 

“All too often, preventable tragedies occur on our roadways. Our goal at the Department of Public Safety is to prevent these tragedies from happening. Our partnership with Nevada Donor Network guarantees these lives were not lost in vain. Our continuing working partnership is vital, as time is of the essence when decisions need to be made to ultimately save and heal lives. We are honored to be a part of the process and to be able to give families the opportunity to choose donation.” - Lieutenant Colonel Martin Mleczko, Nevada Highway Patrol