Ala. county buys defibrillators for police patrol cars

"The deputies are not EMTs or paramedics, but these devices cannot do the patient any harm," said Morgan County Safety Coordinator Jonathan Warner


Michael Wetzel
The Decatur Daily

MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. — Morgan County sheriff's deputies will be better equipped to save lives beginning in March after the County Commission agreed Tuesday to purchase 30 semiautomatic defibrillators that officials said are easy to use.

The 30 Lifepak CR2 automatic external defibrillators and CPR rescue kits from Sterlington Medical based in Houston cost $44,520. The money for the lifesaving equipment is coming out of the general fund, Commission Chairman Ray Long said. Each unit costs $1,450 with CPR kits and shipping fees additional.

"Time is a crucial component when it comes to receiving lifesaving care," said Morgan County Sheriff Ron Puckett. (Image/Morgan County Sheriff's Office)

"Time is a crucial component when it comes to receiving lifesaving care," Morgan County Sheriff Ron Puckett said Tuesday afternoon. "Often when we get a call, our deputies are the first emergency responders on the scene and now will be able to deploy an AED that can save a life."

Morgan County Safety Coordinator Jonathan Warner said the AED, or automatic external defibrillator, units come with visual and audio instructions.

"I'll be doing some basic training with the deputies," said Warner, who also works as a firefighter in Hartselle. "I'm going to walk them through the process so they feel comfortable using it. The deputies are not EMTs or paramedics, but these devices cannot do the patient any harm."

He said once the pads — "not the paddles like you see in the movies" — are placed on the skin of the patient, the device analyzes the heart rhythm.

"The great thing about these devices is they won't shock them if they don't need to be shocked," Warner said. "If the patient is in a shockable rhythm, the device will tell you."

All rescuers must be at least 1 foot away from the patient when a large button is pressed to shock the patient, he said.

The AEDs come with real-time audio instructions for the deputies and have separate settings for adult and pediatric patients.

In the purchase, the department also received 30 CPR kits that include masks, gloves, scissors, razors, disinfectant wipes and non-breathers.

Warner said for responders doing breath resuscitation, the non-breathers — devices that prevent vomit from entering the patient's airway — are a must. "When you get air going into the stomach, it's going to come back up. You want something that is one way. The non-breathers are that."

The devices are expected to arrive in early March.

Last week, 24 AEDs were distributed to volunteer fire departments across the county.

Lawrence County sheriff's Patrol Lt. Lucas Jenkins said his department has 13 similar devices, the Zoll AED Plus. He said they are in patrol cars and with school resource and courthouse officers.

"We've had them about two months, and our deputies, fortunately, haven't had to use them yet," he said. "We have them and our guys are trained. The majority of the time, deputies are the first one on the scene of an emergency."

Lawrence County sheriff's Chief Deputy Brian Covington said a grant through the Alabama Department of Public Health paid for the devices.

In Limestone County, spokeswoman Michelle Williamson said AEDs for the sheriff's deputies' vehicles have been discussed. "We're always looking for grant money to help fund a purchase like this," she said.

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(c)2022 The Decatur Daily (Decatur, Ala.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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