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City might buy defibrillators for police

March 30, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown Police Department could get 23 automated external defibrillators that would be used to restore rhythm to the hearts of cardiac victims.

The City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to give Police Chief Arthur Smith permission to purchase the defibrillators at a cost of $28,635 from Lifework Inc. of Ellicott City, Md.

Smith said today that the defibrillators would be placed in squad cars and be used on people whose hearts have stopped beating. One of the defibrillators could save a cardiac victim vital seconds if a police officer is the first responder to arrive at the scene, he said.

According to city documents, a person's survival rate is reduced by 7 percent to 10 percent for every minute the heart has stopped beating.

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"They've saved lives with these things all over the country," Smith said. "They're very easy to use and give you a chance to bring (cardiac victims) back."

Smith said about $20,000 of the cost would be paid for with grants. The rest of the money would come from donations and the city's general fund, he said.

A majority of the defibrillators would be placed in squad cars, Smith said, but a few would be kept at police headquarters to treat prisoners with cardiac problems.

Council members Martin E. Brubaker, Lewis C. Metzner and Alesia D. Parson-McBean said they would vote to purchase the defibrillators.

"I think it's more than a good thing," Metzner said. "For a small amount of money, we can be saving lives."

Councilwomen Kelly S. Cromer and Penny M. Nigh could not be reached for comment today.

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