Emergency services make plea for extra equipment

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More than 350,000 people suffer cardiac problems per year nationwide, and the Craig Emergency Management Service Board is working to putting equipment in emergency response vehicles that could keep more hearts beating in Moffat County defibrellators.

The Craig Emergency Management Services (EMS) Board met Tuesday night to discuss issues that face the different agencies throughout the region who are in the business of saving lives.

Defibrellators are a device that can restart the heart by providing a shock to the body.

The possibility of all law enforcement and fire response vehicles having defibrellators on board their vehicles was brought up by Moffat County Emergency Manager Clyde Anderson.

Anderson said he volunteered to be part of a state grant program that would put the life-saving piece of equipment in all of the emergency response vehicles in Moffat County, including police, Colorado State Patrol, Moffat County Sheriff's Department, fire response vehicles, national parks vehicles and Dinosaur Police Department's cars.

Anderson took a course that allows him to instruct people on the use of the defibrellators, meaning that training for the different county agencies would only cost them time.

Anderson said he is waiting to hear whether Moffat County was accepted into a state pilot program which would offset the costs of the equipment.

"The funding has been a major obstacle," Anderson said. "I still haven't heard from the guy. Until I hear back, all we can do is wait and see."

Even if the county isn't accepted into the program, there is still a possibility that there would be a few of the machines in different emergency response vehicles throughout the area. The EMS board voted to hold on to $2,500 in funding for the machines. Anderson said defibrellators could save lives in Craig. In most cases, a law enforcement vehicle is the first to respond to a scene, and in cases with cardiac problems, minutes mean the difference between life and death.

"It is a potential life-saving device for people who have heart problems," Anderson said. "The experts say that delivering a shock is more important than CPR when it comes to saving the life of someone with heart problems."

Responding code or non-code to a scene was another topic the board discussed.

Code is emergency service lingo for responding with sirens and with speed. There have been some incidents where emergency services responded in code to scenes that didn't warrant a quick response. Members of the council were afraid the public was unnecessarily put in jeopardy due to the speeding vehicles.

"Anytime you run lights and speed through stop signs, you put people in danger," Captain Gary Torgerson of the Colorado State Patrol said.

Board member Sgt. Bill Leonard of the Craig Police Department said responding code to a situation where it wasn't necessary has cost other law enforcement agencies in the state millions of dollars.

He brought up a court case that went before the Colorado Supreme Court. In that case an officer was responding code to an alarm and hit and killed a citizen. The officer was found to be at fault. The incident cost the department $4 million.

Anderson said better decisions would be made if people took a moment to think before responding or calling for additional response to a scene.

"The bottom line is that everyone needs to have good common sense," Anderson said.

The board came to the conclusion that each member would discuss the issue with his department, and the board would discuss options for code procedures at the next meeting if members felt it was warranted.

The next EMS board meeting will be at 7 p.m. March 6 at The Memorial Hospital conference room.

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