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Editorial: Lifesaving equipment at disposal of police officers

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THERE are some instances in which cost justifications must be waived by decision-makers.

It would be difficult in many situations to justify the outlay of $73,700 for 67 devices that in total are likely to be used less than a dozen times each year — if that. However, when those devices are potentially able to literally save lives, the issue of cost versus value becomes moot.

The lifesavers in this instance are automated, external defibrillators, 55 of which will be placed in each of the Columbus Police Department’s patrol cars. The remaining 12 devices will be placed in city buildings and other city-owned vehicles.

The purchase of these portable units by the city literally buys time for victims of sudden cardiac arrest. Although traditional emergency responders, such as fire department or hospital personnel, are equipped with defibrillators, they are not always the first to arrive on the scene in cardiac situations that demand immediate remedial action.

In a number of emergencies the first responders will be police officers who now will have the option of using the devices — which will be in all patrol cars sometime next month — when confronted by a cardiac event instead of having to wait helplessly for responders with the necessary equipment.

Given the circumstances, it is unlikely that the police car defibrillators will be frequently used. However, even if one life is saved by the immediate use of the device, the expenditure will be justified.

The growing availability of lifesaving devices such as these provides another safety layer to local residents.

Bartholomew County patrol cars have been equipped with the devices since 1999. Initially, the sheriff’s department had only 15 units, but subsequent additions allowed for the placement of a defibrillator in every unit.

The availability of the units in the patrol cars of the sheriff’s department is especially important because deputies are often the first to arrive on scenes that in outlying regions of the county are far removed from quick access by other responders.

Over the past decade, the defibrillators have almost become commonplace throughout Bartholomew County. While once limited to use by trained medical personnel, the devices are at hand in a variety of locations and settings.

In the not-too-distant past the conditions of victims caught in a cardiac arrest were dependent upon the eventual arrival of medical personnel.

Today, their chances of being rescued from those kinds of perilous situations are much greater because someone put a higher value on their lives than the money required for equipment.

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