Updated: 02/08/2013 7:24 AM KSTP.com By: Naomi Pescovitz
Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States, killing one person every two minutes. Often, the first responders in these medical emergencies are police officers. Now, a north metro police department is taking steps to make sure their officers can save lives.
All 20 Coon Rapids squad cars are now equipped with automated external defibrillators, or AEDs.
"Minutes save lives, seconds can save lives," said Coon Rapids Police chief Brad Wise.
At times, Coon Rapids Police beat the fire department to the scene of someone suffering from sudden cardiac arrest.
"If a 911 call comes in and there's an incident at a certain location, the officer may be just down the street, maybe a block away. So our response time can be as short as 20 seconds," Wise said.
The portable AEDs can act as small life saving machines.
"This particular kit has a razor for shaving excessive chest hair if that's necessary, there are scissors for cutting away clothing," Wise said.
"Press one button and the machine does the rest, it tells you what to do, it tells you to do compressions, it tells you if it is going to shock, it tells you to stay away, it tells you to call 911, it does all of the work for you," said Coon Rapids Police Officer Bryan Platz.
The AED's arrived in December and just this week a 30-year-old mother's heart stopped. A Coon Rapids Police Officer was first on the scene and used the defibrillator. That woman is now recovering at the hospital.
"It was literally, from the 911 call to the time the officer arrived to the time the first shock was delivered, was within two minutes," Wise said.
"What we really would like to do is get the public's assistance on this," Platz said.
Platz is also working to make Coon Rapids a "Heart Safe Community." A "Heart Safe Community" is one recognized by the Minnesota Department of Health, the American Heart Association and others for educating the public about sudden cardiac arrest. They also train people on CPR and using AEDs.
Platz wants AEDs in every restaurant, business and workplace.
"I want them everywhere. Anyplace that the public gathers," Platz said.
Platz is also hoping bystanders can become first responders.
"When you can do something to bring that person back, it's an indescribable feeling," Platz said.