The Federal Way Police Department has 16 automated emergency defibrillators, all stored in patrol cars, so officers can respond to CPR in progress calls. Courtesy Federal Way Police Department

AEDs help local police save lives

When Federal Way Police Department officers Justin Antholt and Michael Henrich responded to a CPR call in progress Nov. 27, 2016, they knew just what to do.

When the officers arrived on the scene, approximately three minutes after the dispatch, they found two bystanders performing CPR on a man, who had been sitting on a bench when he stopped breathing and slumped over.

The officers quickly took over, and within five minutes of receiving the call, they had already taken the automated external defibrillator from their car, applied it to the man’s chest and administered a shock. The man started to breathe again approximately 75 seconds later and had a strong pulse prior to the arrival of fire and medical personnel, who took over the patient’s care and transported him to St. Francis Hospital, where he was expected to make a full recovery.

Antholt and Henrich’s actions saved the man’s life. It was the second time each of the officers successfully used an AED to save a person’s life in 2016.

Antholt said the Nov. 27 call was the fourth time he used an AED since the police department began the program in 2014. For that November call, they were only two blocks away from the scene, and in such situations, response time is critical.

Antholt said, in cases whereAEDs are required, the sooner a shock is administered, the greater the chances the patient has of living.

“Every minute counts,” he said.

Antholt said police officers don’t replace medics in these situations. They are there to provide first aid and perform CPR or an AED shock when advised and fill in until paramedics arrive.

“I would say that’s a smooth partnership there,” Antholt said. “Honestly, it’s a great program. I wish every officer had an AED in their car. It’s such a great tool.”

Lt. Raymond Bunk, who spearheaded the effort of bringing AEDs to Federal Way, agrees. He said within the first week of the police department getting its first set of AEDs, purchased by grant money, officers made their first save.

What makes them so valuable, Bunk said, is officers have a life-saving tool on hand and can use it and other life-saving techniques while fire and medical personnel are en route.

“We can just get their faster than fire and medics,” Bunk said.

He said patrol officers can arrive on scene five to 10 minutes quicker by virtue of already being out in the field when they are dispatched to a CPR in progress call. In addition, police officers don’t have the added challenge of maneuvering larger, cumbersome vehicles through traffic, depending on the time of day, Bunk added.

“At the end of the day, we’re all trying to do the same thing, and that’s save a life,” he said.

While every officer is trained on using AEDs, both Bunk and Antholt say the machine itself eliminates all of the guess work.

“It’s amazing how easy they are to use,” Bunk said.

Upon attaching the AED pads to a person’s chest and turning on the machine, the machine indicates when an officer should deploy a shock or if CPR is advisable. Bunk said the AED box even shows where officers should attach the pads.

With a little practice, officers are ready to use the machines in the field. Bunk said he thinks the fact the machines are so simple to use is why they are getting such a good response from officers at so many local police departments.

The Federal Way Police Department has put the AEDs to good use since first starting the program in September of 2014.

In less than six months, officers deployed AEDs four times.

They deployed the machines 11 times in 2015 and 10 times in 2016. As it stands, Bunk said, 9 percent of all AED deployments in King County come from Federal Way.

With fire, medics and police all working together, it benefits everyone, most especially the residents of Federal Way, Bunk said. Currently the department has 16 AEDs, which cost approximately $1,500 each. If a 2016 grant is approved, the department will add three more.

The goal, however, is to have an AED in each car, Bunk said. In the mean time, officers will be sharing the AEDs between cars to further improve coverage.

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