(photo by Ken Ross)
If a person's heart stops at the Cherokee County Courthouse, there will be equipment there to get it started and about a dozen people there trained to operate it, and if a person's heart stops elsewhere in the county, sheriff's deputies, quite likely the first responders on the scene, will also have the training and equipment to restart the person's heart.
Last week, 23 county employees from the sheriff's department, conservation department, the courthouse and secondary roads took training on the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) at Sioux Valley Memorial Hospital provided by Julie Dolphin, a paramedic.
Now seven of these machines are in the sheriff's department vehicles and one is in an alarm cabinet at the county courthouse.
"This was the result of a program of the Iowa Department of Health which thinks access to defibrillators is important. The county EMS Board thinks so too and so does the board of supervisors and all the county departments," said Aimee Barritt, county emergency management coordinator and environmental health director.
The county EMS board voted to spend $7,313 for the equipment to match an equal amount provided by the state grant. Since the state grant is a reimbursement grant, the equipment had to be purchased before the state would reimburse the grant portion.
The board of supervisors voted to guarantee a loan for the equipment and to pay interest on the short term loan.
The equipment is compact but has a high degree of sophistication. It gives voice commands to the user. It monitors pulse and will not allow an electrical charge to be given if the subject has a pulse. The equipment keeps a recording of the vital signs that can be accessed at a hospital computer.
Although the hospital's defibrillator is more sophisticated and larger, the electrodes and pads are the same as those purchased for the county vehicles and courthouse, so a person being brought into the hospital does not have to have the pads reapplied at the hospital. A new set of pads can be put in the defibrillator case at the hospital and making the equipment immediately ready to be used again.
The equipment is powered by a long life battery. There is an indicator light that shows when the battery needs replaced, probably not until 2010 if the equipment does not get much use.
It is hoped that the equipment does not get much use, but its availability could be a life or death matter.