Earlier this year, while having lunch at a Vermillion restaurant, three Clay County Sheriff’s deputies used an AED (automated external defibulator) and CPR to save a man’s life.
It was a perfect example of why having AEDs readily available to deputies and the public is important. For situations like this and more, the Clay County Sheriff’s Department will be even more ready in the future, thanks to a grant of new AEDs recently received by the department from the Helmsley Foundation.
“They are a newer model than what we’ve had in the past with better features that allow for things like doing an assessment during CPR instead of having to pause as previous AEDs required,” said Clay County Sheriff Andy Howe. “These also use the same pads for adults and children, which will save seconds attaching pads when it matters.”
The gift is part of a statewide effort by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to equip every law enforcement agency as well as South Dakota State Park facilities with the next generation of AED. In November, Trust officials announced the $3.6 million grant to the South Dakota Department of Health, which is placing 1,200 devices throughout South Dakota, with three of them specifically coming to Vermillion.
“Getting these new AEDs into the hands of those most likely to arrive first on the scene of a cardiac arrest will help save lives,” said Walter Panzirer, a Helmsley Trustee. “The new technology will give first responders an edge. The South Dakota Department of Health is the first partner in what we hope will be an initiative to place these AEDs in all seven states in Helmsley’s funding area in the Upper Midwest.”
Studies conducted by the American Heart Association demonstrate a dramatically higher survival rate for cardiac patients shocked by law enforcement, who are generally first on the scene, especially in rural areas. The new LIFEPACK® CR2 defibrillators, designed by the Stryker Corporation, were selected to help rescuers provide the fastest first shock when defibrillation is needed.
The LIFEPAK CR2 features technology that reduces pauses during CPR, allowing for improved blood circulation and better odds of survival. Using Wi-Fi connectivity, these self-monitoring devices can be configured to send near real-time event data via Wi-Fi, including a patient’s heart rhythm and shocks delivered, to incoming emergency services or receiving hospitals, helping speed the transition to the next level of care.
Across South Dakota, the new devices should all be in place with training conducted by the end of December. In Vermillion, the new AEDs are already installed in patrol vehicles.
“All of our staff are trained and certified in CPR and AED use each year,” Howe said. “These AEDs are very simple and only required a short familiarization before we could assign them to our vehicles.”
Having the devices readily available has saved lives in Vermillion in the past, and Howe hopes they will be able to assist in the future.
“AEDs have been used several times in recent years in Clay County,” said Howe. “Most of those incidents have been in Vermillion involving the Vermillion Police and EMS. AEDs are more successful when used immediately so often our emergencies in more distant locations haven’t had successful results but we feel that having one in every patrol car increases the chances that one will be close by if one is needed. “Three sheriff’s deputies had a successful deployment of an AED and CPR in 2019, saving a man working at a Vermillion restaurant while they were having lunch there. It’s often a matter of being in the right place at the right time,” he said. “It’s important to have the best resources we can provide to increase the number of those opportunities.”