York County buys resuscitation machines for police patrol vehicles

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

York County Commissioner Ron Smith wants to make sure police patrol cars throughout the county are stocked with automated external defibrillators. And commissioners came one step closer Wednesday to making that happen.

The county board of commissioners voted unanimously to buy 125 Lifepak 1000 AEDs at a cost of $210,625.

The money is from the county's solid waste authority fund, an unrestricted pot of money funded through the fees charged to out-of-county trash haulers, county administrator Mark Derr said.

"It was my desire to make sure that the first responders to the scene have this life-saving instrument in their vehicles," Smith said.

Smith, who has a background in emergency services, said police officers are often the first people on the scene of an incident.

The impetus for the purchase was an incident in Hellam Township, during which a police officer used an AED to save the life of a woman who went into cardiac arrest, Smith said.

York County Commissioner Ron Smith
Wednesday, September 16, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

"If it wouldn't have been for the fact that the chief of police had an AED in his vehicle, that lady would not be alive today," he said. "She made it out of the hospital 100% recovered and back to normal."

Smith said most police departments in the county have at least one AED, if not more, but most don't have enough machines for every vehicle, and a few departments don't have any.

Every second counts when it comes to saving the life of someone in cardiac arrest, he said.

Hellam Township Police Chief Doug Pollock said it usually takes six to 10 minutes for emergency services to arrive after someone calls 911, but in the case of the woman  whose life was saved, a police officer happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right equipment.

The woman went into cardiac arrest while driving and her car went off the road, Pollock said.

One of Pollock's officers happened to notice another person on the side of the road peering into the brush to see what happened. Pollock went to the scene, which was near the station, and happened to have one of the station's two AEDs in his car.

They were able to use the machine right away and get the woman the help she needed before the ambulance arrived, he said.

Chief Doug Pollock

Pollock said he was stunned when Smith told him about the plan to distribute AEDs to the police.

"It personally means a lot to us because we got to see first hand, if we would've only been able to do CPR on her, I don’t think she would’ve lived," the chief said.

The York County Chiefs of Police Association provided Smith with an inventory of every police department's AEDs and patrol vehicles, he said, to help determine how to distribute the machines.

Smith said he expects the AEDs will be delivered sometime after Jan. 1.

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