Pitco deputies may save lives, thanks to new equipment
Ten Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicles will soon carry state-of-the-art life-saving equipment, thanks to a $32,000 grant from the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation.
The first Automated External Defibrillator (AED) will be installed in Deputy Bruce Benson’s vehicle at a 3 p.m. ceremony this afternoon. Nine additional AEDs will be placed into other deputies’ cars in the coming weeks as a result of the foundation’s donation.
The defibrillators are designed to quickly evaluate and correct the potentially fatal heart condition known as ventricular fibrillation. Each Pitkin County Sheriff’s deputy has been trained and certified in the use of the device and will be able to deliver immediate assistance when on the scene of a medical emergency.
Ellen Anderson, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s deputy spearheading the AED effort, said county deputies are dispatched to every medical emergency in the county, and 85 percent of the time, the deputies reach the scene before an ambulance does. Annually, the county receives more than 500 medical emergency calls, of which about 25 are sudden cardiac arrest cases.
“Since deputies take their patrol cars home and carry pagers twenty-four hours a day, they can quickly respond to remote parts of Pitkin County and beyond at any hour of the day or night,” Anderson said. “I anticipate that lives will be saved with this new program thanks to the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation.
“The state of the art for defibrillators is such that they’re very portable and very simple to use, and for all the medical calls that we go on regarding a cardiac arrest, if there’s someone there who’s certified to use an AED, the chances are much higher for a save,” Anderson said. “This is not a level of service required by law, but it’s one that we feel is the right thing to do, and the community wants it.”
The ultimate goal of the local sheriff’s office is to equip all patrol vehicles with an AED, and to have one at headquarters beneath the courthouse and one in the jail, Anderson said. However, in order to do so, the office will need another $30,000. Anderson said the agency has applied for a grant with the state Emergency Medical System to fund additional devices.
“At the very least, we’ll have ten of AED units out there, and if EMS matches the AVMF donation, we’ll meet our goal,” she said.
Anderson said the sheriff’s office should hear about the EMS grant request on July 1.
About 100 police agencies in the country presently carry AEDs in squad cars, however the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Department is believed to be the only other agency in Colorado to equip its officers with the units.
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