Sharpsburg shares its shockers

May 16, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

Two automatic external defibrillators are being installed in the first-responder units at the Potomac Valley Fire Department and at Antietam National Battlefield.

External defibrillators are computerized devices that can shock a human heart back into a life-supporting rhythm, according to Tim Gargana, paramedic supervisor at the Sharpsburg Area Emergency Medical Service.

"We've had these two devices for five years and they have worked very well for us at Sharpsburg," Gargana said.

New monitoring units recently were put into service at the Sharpsburg company, which has its own defibrillators, so the decision was made to share the old devices, thus improving medical care for more people, Gargana said.

Last Saturday, the rangers and some staff personnel at Antietam Battlefield Visitor Center were trained to use the device, Gargana said.


"It's only necessary to be a first-responder to use the computerized units," Gargana said.

They have been used successfully for years by ambulance crews and airlines, among others.

The devices, which differ from full-scale defibrillating units used by doctors and paramedics, are computerized and won't administer an electric shock unless the heart's rhythm requires such action, Gargana said.

"I believe this is the first time in Washington County where these devices have been installed in law enforcement vehicles," Gargana said. The devices are being installed in patrol vehicles used by the U.S. Park Service at Antietam.

In Frederick County, Md., the devices have been used in county police vehicles, Gargana said.

Antietam Superintendent John Howard said all of his rangers are emergency medical technicians (EMTs), a more experienced designation than first responders.

"This is going to be great for the park visitors and the community of Sharpsburg," Howard said. He said rangers will be available for calls in the Sharpsburg area if needed.

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