Donations Help Charles County Sheriff’s Office Acquire Automated External Defibrillators

When someone suffers sudden cardiac arrest, every second counts. Victims of this condition need help quickly and, often times, an electric shock from an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) means the difference between life and death. Now, thanks to donations from the Greater Waldorf Jaycees and Bill and Elaine Wedding of Indian Head, the Charles County Sheriff’s Office is equipped with these important life-saving devices.

Charles County Sheriff’s officers respond not only to crime-related incidents, but to medical emergencies as well and are often the first rescuers on the scene. However, until recently, when someone was suffering sudden cardiac arrest, all officers could do was administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to the victim and wait for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) rescuers to arrive. Each minute that passed without administering a shock with a defibrillator reduced the victim’s chances of survival by 7 to 10 percent, according to the American Heart Association.

In February 2003, Bill Wedding and his wife, Elaine, donated $2,000 to the Sheriff’s Office to purchase an AED. The Weddings have more than 30 years of service to our County each; Bill Wedding is the president of the Charles County EMS Association and Elaine Wedding is the Advanced Life Support Training Coordinator for EMS.

In 2004, Dick Gregory, president of the Waldorf Jaycees Foundation, and Kevin Wedding, president of the Waldorf Jaycees Chapter, presented Sheriff Frederick E. Davis with $22,000 on behalf of the Jaycees for another 11 AEDs, which cost $1,995 apiece. The Jaycees have also allocated funds to provide the Sheriff’s Office with 10 more AEDs next year.

"AEDs are proven to save lives when the shock is administered to a victim of sudden cardiac arrest within the first five to seven minutes of the onset of the emergency. When our officers are first on the scene, we want them to have these devices so the victim can get treated as soon as possible," said Sheriff Davis. "We’ve wanted to purchase AEDs for a couple of years now, but it’s not until the gracious donations from the Waldorf Jaycees and Bill and Elaine Wedding that it became possible. These people have truly made a difference in their community and because of them, our officers will be equipped to save the lives of victims who need the shock from an AED to survive."

On May 19, 2004, the Charles County Sheriff’s Office received certification through the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) to establish its AED program. In 1999, a law went into effect that permits a business, organization, association or other facility certified by MIEMSS to set up an AED program so, should someone suffer sudden cardiac arrest on the facility’s premises, appropriately trained non-medical personnel can administer the device to the victim before EMS personnel arrive, which greatly increases a victim’s chance of survival.

Each certified AED program, according to MIEMSS requirements, must have a sponsoring physician. Dr. Lee Goodman, medical director for the Emergency Room of Civista Medical Center, sponsors the Charles County program.

"I want to thank Dr. Goodman for sponsoring us," said Sheriff Davis. "We’ve worked well over the years with Dr. Goodman and the staff at Civista Medical Center and this is another great opportunity for us to enhance public health and safety in our community together."

After an officer uses an AED to help a victim, the officer will follow the victim to the Civista Medical Center. A downloading station is set up at the hospital so, once the AED is used, the system will capture the data and print out a record.

Each Sheriff’s Officer has received training to use the AEDs, however, the devices are relatively simple to use. The devices are voice-prompted and will not allow the officer to shock a person who does not need to be shocked. The AED will analyze the victim and determine whether a shock should be administered. If it does, the officer will shout the familiar "Clear!" warning to ensure no one is touching the victim and then administer the shock in an attempt to restore the victim’s heart rhythm. The AED will deliver three shocks if the victim continues to be unresponsive. After the third shock, the AED will prompt the officer to check the victim’s pulse and, if no pulse is detected, the officer will administer CPR for one minute. The AED will advise the officer once the minute has passed and the officer will then re-assess and analyze the victim and repeat the process. Unless the AED advises "No Shock," it will deliver up to nine shocks–three at a time followed by a minute of CPR–and any treatment following the nine shocks is at the discretion of EMS personnel.

Because of their ease of use and their life-saving value, AEDs are seen more and more at locations other than hospitals and Advanced Life Support units. Some malls, neighborhood associations and other organizations have acquired AEDs, including the Waldorf Jaycees, who will keep one of the AEDs at their Community Center in Waldorf. Sgt. Wayne Wathen and Officer Mark Powers, La Plata police officers who are certified by the American Red Cross as AED trainers, will train Jaycees personnel on how to use the devices. The La Plata Police Department established an AED program several years ago and uses the same model AED the Sheriff’s Office has purchased, the Lifepak 500 AED.

The remaining 11 AEDs will ensure each part of Charles County is patrolled at all times by an officer equipped with an AED. Four of the AEDs will be used in patrols in the Waldorf district, three in the La Plata district and two in the Indian Head district. On-duty officers will be responsible for carrying the AEDs to ensure the devices are available throughout the County anytime of the day or night.

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