BONNERS FERRY — When minutes truly matter, a single tool can be the difference between life and death. When a person begins to experience heart trouble, especially in the remote parts of our county, those minutes become even more precious.
Thanks to a grant from BNSF Railway Co., all the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicles now come equipped with a new life saving device, an automated external defibrillator (AED).
An AED is a portable device that can diagnose the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias such as ventricular fibrillation and pulseless ventricular tachycardia. It delivers a shock, also known as defibrillation, which can stop the arrhythmia, which allows the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm.
“It is a fairly simple way to maybe save someone’s life when they are having a heart attack or are in cardiac arrest,” said Boundary County Sheriff Dave Kramer. “You put the pads on and it will walk you through, and let you know if a shock is necessary or not.”
Prior to receiving the AED units for every patrol vehicle, there was only one available for all the patrols to share.
“In the past, we only had one available for patrols, so it was one defib that a deputy on shift could put in their patrol car and have available, but at the end of their shift, if they forgot to drop it off, then there were some shifts that would go without it,” explained Kramer.
Seeing an opportunity to hopefully save lives, Kramer reached out to BNSF and applied for a grant.
“We were very excited to get the word that they granted our request to purchase one AED for each of our patrol vehicles,” said Kramer. “It was a sizable donation that they made, on our behalf, to our community- $15,373.30.”
Having used an AED before, Boundary County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Cobler is excited about having AED units available in every patrol vehicle.
“We are out on the streets all the time,” said Cobler. “We are probably the closest people to someone that is going to have a cardiac arrest or a cardiac problem, and having that tool with us is what is going to save someone’s life.”
The BCSO has also partnered up with Boundary Ambulance to not only choose the best AED units that were compatible with the pads used by the ambulance, but also to provide training for those deputies that needed to update their AED certification. The training will ensure that all deputies are current in their First Aid, CPR, and AED operations.
“We are super excited to hear Sheriff Kramer and our partners at BCSO were awarded this grant for lifesaving AEDs,” stated Boundary Ambulance Chief Jeff Lindsey. “During a sudden cardiac arrest event, there are only minutes to get an AED to the scene and delivering shocks.”
“Time is never on our side in a rural county such as ours especially during a sudden cardiac arrest. With this grant, having an AED in every BCSO patrol vehicle just increased the ability of getting an AED to the scene quickly, hopefully putting time back on the patient’s side,” wrote Lindsey in his statement.
Moving forward, now if a call comes into dispatch that somebody is possibly in cardiac arrest, a deputy can be responding there while the ambulance is being paged out.
“If they are in the right place at the right time, odds are they will arrive at the scene prior to the ambulance,” Kramer said. “If it appears that they are in cardiac arrest, then they can hook the AED up to them and it will analyze the person and let them know if a shock is recommended. If it is, the machine will go ahead and shock.”
“They are very quick and very easy,” said Cobler, “and if someone’s life is going to be saved, an AED is the tool that will do it.”