La Crosse County Deputy Daren Schieldt could use an automated external defibrillator, as he often is first to arrive at an emergency call.
But Schieldt, a deputy for nine years, doesn’t have an AED in his squad car — only three squads do, he explained, all on second shift when they are most needed.
“Just the other day a code (heart failure) was in progress in the morning and no squad cars had AEDs,” he said. “I was close by to the call in a rural area, and first responders were 10 to 15 minutes away. Fortunately, everything worked out OK.
“The big thing is if we had AEDs in all squad cars, we’d use them and save more lives,” he said.
Which is why the Seven Rivers Region chapter of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association wants to buy AEDS for 25 marked and unmarked sheriff squad cars and two patrol boats. The chapter is kicking off a fundraising campaign during CPR/ AED Awareness Week to raise $25,000 for 25 defibrillators.
The La Crosse Loggers home opener Wednesday will be Cardiac Arrest Association Night, where the chapter will start the campaign.
An AED is a small portable device that analyzes heart rhythms and advises the operator, through computerized voice instructions, when to push a button to deliver a potentially life-saving shock to the victim.
Schieldt, also a Shelby Fire Department first responder, said he regularly arrives first at daytime 911 calls to businesses and homes.
“Accessibility to AEDs is one of the best things we can do for our communities,” he said. “We have situations when we get a call of a code in progress and we are so close, but we don’t have an AED.”
Dr. Cheri Olson, who survived sudden cardiac arrest in 2009 with the help of an AED, said a recent study showed defibrillation use
before first responders arrive nearly doubles the odds of a person surviving sudden cardiac arrest.
“That study provides good evidence that every minute counts when it comes to sudden cardiac arrest,” she said.
Olson, a Franciscan Skemp
Healthcare family medicine physician, brought together both La Crosse medical centers, city fire and police departments, paramedics, health officials and citizens to form the first Wisconsin chapter of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association, a national organization focused on cardiac sudden arrest.
The chapter recently completed a goal of providing funds to place AEDS in every La Crosse public school. The group would like to expand the initiative to private and rural schools, Olson said.
Olson, who will celebrate her 53rd birthday at the Loggers’ game Wednesday, was seeing a patient at Franciscan Skemp’s Family Health Clinic on Feb. 27, 2008, when she collapsed. A nurse started CPR, while another grabbed an AED about 30 feet away in the clinic lobby.
It took only one AED shock to bring Olson back. Olson didn’t have a heart attack — her coronary arteries were fine – but she had an electrical problem with her heart and received an internal defibrillator/pacemaker that will jump-start her heart if something goes wrong again.
“It not only saved my life but prevented additional damage,” she said.