For about a decade, the Battle Ground Police Department has equipped every patrol and supervisor vehicle in its fleet with an automated external defibrillator (AED).
The piece of equipment, which can be pricey, has proved to be lifesaving in situations when someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest.
School Resource Officer Phil Anderson has deployed an AED once when he responded to Red Robin after a man had a sudden cardiac episode. Shortly after the equipment was utilized, medics arrived to provide more aid to the man.
While his use of the equipment has been limited, he has responded to many calls where the AEDs have been utilized by emergency medical service personnel.
“The opportunity to be able to take a simple to use machine, take a couple of pads that are very easy to place, push a button, get direction, do what you’re told by the machine, and here is someone who was not here and now they’re here (is a wonderful thing),” Anderson said.
Patrol vehicles are smaller and more nimble than fire engines, so officers often arrive at medical scenes before fire and EMS personnel. Without an AED, first responders have to do chest compressions, which statistically can be less effective at reviving a person during cardiac episodes.
Battle Ground Communications Manager Alisha Smith said officers deployed the use of an AED in one of their patrol cars at a community race shortly after they received the equipment.
“It was actually a city employee who had a cardiac event, and fortunately, it was like all things aligned for his survival because running behind him was a nurse and I think she initiated CPR,” Smith said. “One of our officers had arrived with an AED and they were able to save his life and he even resumed running (at the event).”
Certain AEDs, like the one Anderson has in his patrol vehicle, are equipped with pediatric cartridges along with adult cartridges. Upkeep and training is crucial as the cartridges have expiration dates, officials noted. Training for CPR and AED usage occurs every two years.
Along with the AED kit, numerous items like specialty scissors, a shaver, sanitizing wipes and other items are included to ensure optimal usage for the Battle Ground Police Department.
Anderson also noted each police department vehicle is equipped with opticom capabilities, which allow officers to switch traffic lights to green as they respond to calls.
Opticom, which Anderson said has been a helpful piece of equipment, can be rare for police departments. It is more commonly equipped into ambulances and fire rescue vehicles. Opticom allows officers to arrive at the scene where lifesaving measures are necessary in a safer fashion, Anderson said.
Smith said the equipment officers utilize to make their jobs easier helps boost morale.
“Having worked here and in proximity to the officers, those are the things that I hear them getting excited about,” Smith said.