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How to...Acquire AEDs

Putting AEDs in your department's patrol cars could save countless lives from sudden cardiac arrest.

January 01, 2003  |  by - Also by this author

Paying for Training

The Medtronic Physio-Control LifePak 500 and (below) Philips Medical Systems’ HeartStartFR2+ both use voice prompts and diagrams to guide the first responder using the device. Simple one-button operation delivers a shock quicky, when necessary. Both devices advise if no shock is necessary.

Of course, you need a way to pay for training. Costs can vary greatly, so do your homework.

Some clinics or hospitals might train your officers for free or at a discounted rate. Or a local business might be willing to sponsor your training as a charitable donation.

The Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department was lucky in receiving its training completely free.

Tippecanoe Sheriff Anderson says, "We contacted a local healthcare clinic for training, and it was their idea to train everyone for free. We trained about 120 employees en masse; everyone in the building, including secretaries, mechanics, and cooks."

Ask around and seek help from those who have already been there. AED manufacturers might have training programs already in place in your area.

Fire departments and EMTs will probably be able to help with training. If they don't know who can help, they probably know who to talk to. Also, ask the companies you're "auditioning" for the role of your AED provider. They have often already established relationships with hospitals in your area. If not, they'll be willing to help you find someone.

Making the News

Once you have a program in place, let your community know about it. It might seem unnecessary, but good publicity for police departments is never a bad idea. And if you can show the community that AEDs are effective, you might be able to get funding to purchase more for your department or for public places in the community.

Burlington PD's Sciuto thinks, "the public should know that police are ready for any type of emergency situation. They all know we're there to give them a ticket when they're speeding, but what they don't think about is we're also there to assist them."

Suffolk County's publicity campaign is a good example of how to let your community know about your program. Grennon spread the word about the Sheriff's Department's AED program by doing interviews with the Associated Press as well as writing articles.

"We tried to let people know what we were doing and that we were responsibly spending their tax money," explains Grennon.

"The AED program has been a windfall of good publicity and good will for us. It's been four years, and there hasn't been a negative comment," he adds.

The Future of AEDs

The ZOLL AED Plus utilizes a unique “zee” design that positions the defibrillator pads for you. But the pads can slide further over to accommodate larger SCA victims.

Sciuto predicts AEDs will become extremely common in police cars, as well as public places, very soon. "You're going to start to see these like fire extinguishers in the next few years," he says.

In fact, many businesses, including airlines and casinos, are using AEDs right now. And many communities have started Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) programs to train everyday citizens how to use CPR and AEDs to save lives with AED units positioned in public places. "I think the more people who are trained, and the more people who are aware of what AEDs are, the better," Sciuto says.

But he points out that planning to get AEDs in the future will not save lives now. "You have to almost wait for something bad to happen to get things moving, although I hate to say it. People tend to be reactive. We, as a department, plan to be proactive. You have to say, 'This is our job, to save lives, to protect and serve. AEDs move us forward with the technology that's out there. Let's take advantage of it.'"

AEDs are more than just another device to add to the collection of electronics in your car. Says Tippecanoe County's Anderson, "When people's fathers, sisters, daughters come into your lobby to thank you for your help, you can't communicate that in words."

And considering the number of police officers who suffer SCA on- and off-duty, Grennon points out that, "the life you save may be your own."

Tips for Starting an AED Program

1. Ask around-Check with your local police, your local EMS, your local fire service, your local sheriff's department, or correctional facility. Group purchasing is key. It can substantially reduce the cost of the units. Also, other departments might have an opinion on the best units for your community. The best price might not always be the way to go.

2. Reevaluate training plans-Most law enforcement agencies in the country are required to do CPR training for their people once a year. The defibrillator has become popular with the standard of care and is now in all of the CPR classes. So you might only be increasing training time by two hours per year per person by adding specific AED training.

3. Strategic placement-When you strategically place your units, you don't need that many of them. They're not like fire extinguishers. Not every car or station needs one.

4. Find creative funding sources-The community is willing to donate. Contact local charities and businesses. They might cover part or all of your training and purchasing costs.

AEDs: Who Makes 'Em

Cardiac Science
Powerheart AED

Medtronic Physio-Control
LifePak 500

Philips Medical Systems

ZOLL Medical

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