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FOCUS: ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY NEWS | NORTH: PLACENTIA

Police to Give Automated Defibrillators a Field Test

September 12, 1998|DEBRA CANO

As a lifesaving measure, police officers this weekend will begin carrying in their patrol cars a portable device that delivers an electric shock to heart attack victims.

Placentia police are the first in Orange County to equip patrol cars with the high-tech device, Police Chief Daryll Thomann said.

SurVivaLink, a Minneapolis company, is supplying the city with six devices at no charge for a 90-day trial period.

Officers are often the first on scene and will now be able to use the automated defibrillator device to try to save cardiac-arrest victims.

"With heart attack victims, a few minutes can be extremely important in saving someone's life," Thomann said.

Studies have shown that defibrillation within the first few minutes can save up to 50% of heart attack victims, he said. Heart attack victims must be treated within seven minutes to have any chance of surviving.

Putting the device into the hands of officers will give them a "good chance to save a victim of sudden cardiac arrest," Thomann said.

Police will step aside in treating a patient once paramedics arrive.

Thomann said he wanted to try out the devices because of the city's increasing senior population.

So far, 18 officers have been trained to use the devices, which have an electronic voice that takes users step by step through the process, Det. Corinne Loomis said.

"Officers are comfortable with the idea because the machine is foolproof," Loomis said. "There's no way to injure a patient. The machine will make the determination on whether the shock will be made."

The only downside, Loomis said, is that the device cannot be used on children under the age of 8 or a person under 60 pounds, due to the shock that is delivered.

If the city decides to continue using the devices, it would have to buy them at $3,000 each, Loomis said.

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