Gifted AEDs aim to improve cardiac arrest survival rates

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(ABC 6 News) – As local agencies are stepping up and emphasizing the importance of having an AED, or automatic external defibrillator, on hand.

The St. Charles police department is slated to receive four new AEDs in the coming months through a grant from the University of Minnesota.

St. Charles Chief of Police Jose Peliaz says his department responds to between five and eight cpr calls a year.

“Being able to save some time,” Peliaz said.

Meaning officers have to do everything they can to restart a person’s heart including using an AED.

“Act right away,” Peliaz said.

Each of the department’s four squad cars have AEDs in them, but Chief Peliaz says they could use and update.

“Anywhere from 10 to probably 14 years old,” Peliaz said.

Thanks to an $18.8 million Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust grant through the University of Minnesota Medical School, the department will get four new AED’s come April or May.

The grant, which aims to provide state law enforcement agencies and first responders across Minnesota with more than 8,300 AEDs to improve cardiac arrest survival rates.

Data from Minnesota Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) shows that 70% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest incidents happen in homes, where AEDs placed in public facilities can have little impact. 

RELATED: St. Charles PD gifted AEDs from grant through U of M Medical School

Peliaz says the new technology will start analyzing the patients heart while the officer performs chest compressions.

From there, the AED can flash a quick message saying that the patient’s heart is ready for a shock.

Peliaz says it can mean the difference between life or death.

“It is very important to have equipment that is going to work, it’s new, it’s reliable. Minutes if not seconds matter,” Peliaz said.

Similar to Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin’s collapse on the field earlier this week.

“That trauma at that exact moment of the cardiac cycle could precipitate a very fatal arrythmia,” Columbia University Medical Center Cardiologist Jennifer Haythe explains.

First responders on the field administered CPR for minutes before using an AED on Hamlin’s heart.

Cases like this Hamlin’s, remind local first responders why their training is so important.

“Having these new AEDS is going to help us improve surviving those cardiac arrest emergencies,” Peliaz said