The Columbus Police Department plans to install defibrillators in its patrol cars next month. City officials say it will help in emergency situations when police arrive on the scene before emergency response teams. But research is mixed on whether giving police defibrillators actually saves lives.
55 Columbus police cars will be fitted with automated external defibrillators, or AEDs. Police Chief Jason Maddix says there are many situations where police are the first ones on the scene of a medical emergency. But without AEDs, they can only do so much.
“Our fire department and our EMS locally respond very quickly. They have a target respond time of like four minutes to different events,” Maddix says. “But sometimes, especially in the middle of the night when we’re on a patrol, we can get there more quickly and hopefully deploy the necessary equipment to save a life.”
But Dr. William Groh, an Associate Professor of Medicine at IUPUI who’s done extensive research on defibrillators research shows just giving police defibrillators and training them how to use them isn’t enough.
Groh says “often police officers, whose jobs haven’t really been providing this kind of advanced care, weren’t necessarily comfortable in doing this, despite their training.”
Still, Groh says training has been improving over the last decade, and adds if police officers are willing and prepared to use AEDs, they could make a big difference in situations when every second counts.