Fla. county uses $548K FEMA grant to equip ambulances with CPR devices

Chest compression machines will be placed on ambulances throughout the county and eliminate the possibility of minor mistakes when a human performs CPR


By John Chambliss
The Ledger

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A $548,000 grant from FEMA will be used by Polk County to purchase equipment to perform CPR.

Chest compression machines will be placed on ambulances throughout the county and eliminate the possibility of minor mistakes when a human performs CPR during the vital seconds of a patient's life, said Robert Weech, an assistant fire chief with the county.

The county already has equipped 10 of the ambulances with machines over the past two years. In 2017, Polk County Fire Rescue responded to 98,000 emergency calls. Of those calls, 1,486, or about four each day, were for people in cardiac arrest.

Weech said the machines will help save lives for patients with long transport times with only seconds to live.

"It will make a difference," he said.

The county competed with fire departments across the country for the grant.

In a statement, County Commissioner Board Chair Todd Dantzler thanked U.S. Reps. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, and Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, and Sens. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Republican Marco Rubio for their role in helping the county land the grant.

Weech said if someone goes into cardiac arrest, the machine provides forceful compressions that someone may not be able to do if they are tired or their hands are improperly positioned.

"This machine eliminates all of that and it doesn't get fatigued," Weech said.

Weech said a board is placed under a patient's back, while a band wraps around the person's chest as the battery-driven compressions occur. Heart monitors are attached to the person.

The county should receive the new equipment in three to four months, Weech said.

Copyright 2018 The Ledger

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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