CALAIS — They are usually the first on the scene, and now that the police department has trained personnel equipped with defibrillators, they can do more for heart-attack victims than just wait for an ambulance.
Chief Michael Milburn and Calais Fire Captain Dale Purton said they believe the Calais Police Department is the first in the county and one of the first in the state to carry defibrillators in police cruisers.
The defibrillators are the same high-tech portable units that are carried on international flights and by the NASA space shuttle. They cost $4,000.
Purton said the units, known as automatic external defibrillators, could save lives. “This gives us an edge on basic life support. If we can get to a patient who is in cardiac arrest within the first six minutes or so… do CPR and apply these machines… it could help,” Purton said. He said the new equipment would only augment the efforts of the ambulance service which has highly trained personnel on each run.
The portable units are not what is usually shown on television drama shows where a doctor applies two metal paddles to a patients chest and yells “Clear.”
Purton said the unit has adhesive patches that are applied to the victims chest. He said the machine does all the work, reading the patients heart rhythm and applying a shock when necessary. “It will not shock unless there is a shockable rhythm… so it is really user friendly,” he explained. Purton said police officers and firefighters are being trained to operate the units.
The first defibrillator was purchased for the rescue truck through the fund raising efforts of the Calais Fire Department and a donation from McGovern Ambulance Service.
After Calais Mayor Michael Sherrard heard about the units, he proposed placing them in each of the city’s police cruisers and a third unit at the city’s Red Beach Fire Department. Those three units were purchased with city funds.
Milburn said he believes the important factor, from the police department’s perspective, is the quick response time of city police. He said his department has a police cruiser on the road 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and one usually is on the scene within minutes of an emergency.
The chief said he believes half of his department will be trained by the end of this week, and the rest will be trained by next week.
“We are here to serve the public any way we possibly can, and I can’t think of a better way then to help save a life,” Milburn said.
Assistant Fire Chief Ken Clark said training would be according to American Heart Association Standards.