Every uniformed deputy sheriff patrolling Campbell County now carries a brand-new automated external defibrillator (AED), thanks to a donation from the multi-billion dollar Helmsley Charitable Trust.
“The Campbell County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) would like to say thank you. It’s a huge benefit to our community and the citizens of Campbell County,” CCSO Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds said Friday afternoon.
The foundation donated 45 AED units to CCSO recently, allowing the agency to move away from their previous AED system centralized around five, heavily used, AED systems that were passed from one patrol shift to another.
Under the previous system, the five available AEDs could decrease to four or three, depending on whether the AEDs were used and needed to be reset by nursing staff before being put back on the streets.
With every uniformed deputy on patrol now able to carry an AED, it eliminates an otherwise dire situation in which an AED is required to save a life, but one is not readily available, according to Reynolds.
“We’ll have more accessibility to the AEDs to help in situations where they are required,” Reynolds said.
The new AEDs have a different look from the older models, but at the same time, they operate in essentially the same fashion as the old units, albeit with a few minor differences.
Both the old units and the new feature voice prompts, giving the user verbal instructions on how to place their adhesive pads on the subject’s body in the event a shock is given, according to CCSO Deputy Ben Gauthier.
Both units inform the user based on the subject’s heart rate and whether they were experiencing atrial fibrillation (AFib), if an electric shock is warranted.
When a subject is experiencing AFib, the electrical system within their heart is going haywire, causing the heart to pump incredibly fast. The heightened heart rate does not allow the heart to fill up with enough blood to provide adequate circulation to the body. In some cases, AFib can cause heart failure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
An AED delivers a 3,000-volt shock within one millisecond that stops the heart, allowing the organ to restart itself under its natural rhythm and beat regularly, said CCSO K9 Deputy Trevor Osborne. Both units deliver the same shock.
The new units, however, are slightly simpler. There is no external power switch, unlike the old units. The new unit’s power on automatically when their lid is opened, presenting an illustrated diagram that shows how and where to place the pads.
A child mode is another feature boasted by the new units and not the old. The feature adjusts where the pads should be placed on a child’s body, opposed to an adult.
All the instructions on the new units are inherently simple, making the process easier for any one to use it in the event of an emergency.
“If you’re doing CPR, and you’re not familiar with an AED, as long as you can follow directions, you’ll be able to assist that person,” Gauthier said.
The donations have already been put to good use, with the sheriff’s office already using one in the field to save a resident’s life. The efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, and the resident’s identity as well as the specifics surrounding the event have been withheld for the family’s sake.
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust was founded in 2008 following the death of Leona Helmsley, who left most of the multi-billion-dollar Helmsley estate to the trust, according to the organization website. The Helmsley’s built a real estate empire starting in the 1930s.
The trust has committed more than $2.5 billion to various humanitarian and medical programs around the world.
The AEDs received by the CCSO were donated under the trust’s Rural Health Care Program, a program designed to provide relief to healthcare workers and provide healthcare services to citizens in the upper Midwest. It accounts for approximately 19% of the organizations grantmaking initiatives.
Law enforcement agencies in Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota and other upper Midwest states received similar donations since the Rural Health Care Program’s inception in 2009.
Earlier this year, the trust also provided $220,434 in funding to Campbell County Health as part of a COVID-19 Cardiac Preparedness project. The intent was to prepare the health organization for the emerging Coronavirus pandemic and improve management of cardiac arrests.