By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
The Craig Police Department and the Moffat County Sheriff's Department have acquired two Automatic External Defibrillators (AED), thanks to several efforts by community members.
The departments have been working to equip each patrol vehicle with the devices for the last three years. Each defibrillator costs approximately $2,400, and the police department and the Sheriff's Department have received funds for five units, and are well on the way to a sixth. Two AEDs are already in service in the community.
"We've been very pleased with what the community has done for us," Craig Police Sgt. Bill Leonard said. "Just to have people come forward on their own people that have lost family members to cardiac arrests has been pretty amazing. And the more people that have found out about the effort, the more that have come forward."
An AED is a portable, self-contained device that can diagnose and treat cardiac problems. The AEDs can be carried in patrol cars, allowing patrol officers to handle certain medical situations if they arrive first saving critical time in possible life-or-death situations.
"Data has shown that early defibrillation is the key to survival, no matter what the skill of the attending person is," said Mindy Harless, an EMT and member of the Craig Emergency Response Team. "Living in a rural area, these AEDs can make a lot of difference, especially with deputies out in the county. The officers usually arrive on a scene at least five or six minutes before us, and if the call is far out in the county, it could be longer. Those minutes could literally be the difference between life or death. It's a really good program to have, and that's why we're helping with the fund-raisers."
Local law enforcement agencies and The Memorial Hospital sponsored a golf tournament earlier this year that raised more than $4,000 toward the purchase of the AEDs.
Virginia and "Shorty" Cromer contributed $2,400, the Craig Lions Club donated nearly $5,000, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary gave $255, and the local chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha International, Alpha Tau, donated $1,000.
The police department and sheriff's department are working to get more officers trained to use the AEDs by the end of March. As more units are acquired, they will be rotated into patrol vehicles until each patrol vehicle is equipped with an AED.
The police department needs 23 AEDs, and the sheriff's office needs 26. The departments have applied for a federal Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Grant to fund the remaining purchases.
"If a deputy is 25 miles outside of Craig, and a hunter goes down in camp, there's a better chance for a save from a cardiac arrest with [an AED]," Leonard said. "This three-year project started from me reading about them, and looking at [the AEDs]. It's been a long, drawn out project. To my knowledge, we'll be the second agency to go online with AEDs in Colorado."