The machines, known as automatic external defibrillators, or AEDs, generate an electric impulse to shock a patient’s heart back into a normal rhythm. Union Hospital Vice President of Medical Affairs John Bolinger says sheriff’s deputies won’t get much training in how to use the equipment, in part because the machines themselves determine whether a patient needs the treatment.
“These defibrillators automatically recognize a lethal arrhythmia and deliver a shock,” Bolinger says. “All [the deputies] have to do is place it.”
Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing says only nine of his department’s 21 cars will get the AEDs, with the goal of securing more donations to buy equipment for the remaining 12 in the future. Ewing says the AEDs will be distributed around the county each shift to maximize their effectiveness.
“We’re very fortunate that our computer system — our CADS system – all we have to do is identify that our squad cars have the AED capability and in that geographic area, it’ll automatically request that deputy to respond,” Ewing says.
Ewing says deputies have long been trained in CPR, but previously would have had to listen for a fire call to know where they could help someone in distress. Now, that job falls to a 911 dispatcher’s computer.