Fla. police to get defibrillators in cruisers
By Christine Dellert
Although Groveland police are already certified to operate defibrillators, they will have extra training before the devices go into cars next week, officials said.
"If it is the case of a heart attack, getting that defibrillator there a minute sooner could mean the difference of survival or not," Groveland police Lt. Jesse Baker said.
Teaching police officers to use and carry the devices is part of a nationwide trend, said Jim Judge, executive director of Lake-Sumter Emergency Medical Services.
"It makes perfect sense for law-enforcement officers ... while there are a lot more firetrucks than there are ambulances, many times there's a lot more police cars than there are firetrucks," he said.
In Lake County alone at least six agencies, including the Leesburg, Tavares and Umatilla police departments, already have officers carrying defibrillators. Some Lake deputies also store the devices in their cars while on duty.
Baker said his agency purchased the equipment with a $10,770 grant from the Community Foundation of South Lake County Inc. Each unit is rigged with a key to adjust the voltage so it can be used on adults and infants, he said.
Defibrillators are designed to revive people in cardiac arrest by delivering a shock that restores a normal heart rhythm. When used with cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the devices can keep victims alive until emergency crews arrive.
Each month, the Groveland Fire Department receives about 110 calls for help -- and 60 of those are medical calls, Baker said.
"We probably beat them [firefighters] to medical calls 75 percent of the time," he said. "I pray that we never have to use one, but if the need arises it will be nice to have them."
Copyright 2007 The Orlando Sentinel
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