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NYPD - Equipped to handle cardiac arrest

NEW YORK - After several years of testing portable defibrillators, the Police Department announced yesterday that each of the city''s 76 police precincts - along with other police facilities - has been equipped with a defibrillator to help resuscitate victims of cardiac arrest.

"By providing defibrillators at more than 100 locations across the city, the New York City Police Department is ensuring that victims of cardiac arrest have the greatest possible chance for survival," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

"We have not only provided this essential equipment to every precinct, we have also established a complete training program to ensure that our officers are fully prepared to use it during an medical emergency."

In 1997, the NYPD began a pilot program to test automated external defibrillators in eight precincts that have a high incidence of cardiac arrests. In the pilot program, police used the AEDs a total of 82 times; they succeeded in temporarily resuscitating the hearts of 16 people and helping four victims recover completely from the cardiac arrest.

"I''m 100% behind it. It''s a great thing," said Dr. Richard Westfal, the associate director of emergency medicine at St. Vincent''s Catholic Medical Center in Manhattan. "You need to have your heart shocked right away for any chance to get through this."

Every minute that goes by before a defibrillator is applied to someone with cardiac arrest decreases the victim''s survival rate by about 10%, Dr. Westfal said. By that calculation, someone who goes into cardiac arrest and has his heart defibrillated six minutes later has a 40% chance of survival, he said. In the 1990s, a study showed that paramedics took an average of 16 minutes to arrive on the scene of a heart attack and apply a defibrillator, he said.

The cost of AEDs continues to fall, and computerized models can be bought for about $1,200, Dr. Westfal said.

New York Sun

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