Life-saving gear added to deputies’ patrol cars

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 7, 2001

Not only do Mower County Sheriff’s Department deputies protect and serve, they also save.

Monday, May 07, 2001

Not only do Mower County Sheriff’s Department deputies protect and serve, they also save.

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Lives, that is.

Frequently, a sheriff’s deputy is the first on the scene at a medical emergency, arriving before first responders or ambulance service technicians. When it involves a cardiac arrest victim, any delay can mean the difference between life and death.

Now, sheriff’s deputies have a tool to tackle cardiac emergencies: Lifepak 500, an automated external defibrillator.

The Medtronic Physio-Control units went into service last week. They are now part of the equipment carried in every Sheriff’s Department patrol vehicle, while another is available at the Mower County Government Center.

The Austin Police Department put defibrillators into patrol cars in 1995 and also has added models this spring.

The defibrillator is designed to restore the rhythm of a fibrillating heart by electrical stimulus.

Mark Lemieux, a sales representative for Medtronic and a 20-year veteran certified paramedic, joined Greg Hartquist in training deputies in the use of the defibrillator last Thursday. Hartquist is a veteran Gold Cross Ambulance Service paramedic who has been a jail detention officer for more than two years.

No sooner did Hartquist begin work in the Mower County Jail, than he saw the need for the department to add the defibrillator to its arsenal of public safety tools.

"When I worked as a paramedic, I saw great results with the use of the defibrillator on cardiac victims," Hartquist said. "There were over 250,000 cardiac arrests per day last year in the United States, so you can understand how important it is to have this important tool available."

According to Lemieux, the Lifepak 500 is the latest model invented by Medtronic 40 years ago. Not only are emergency services and public safety agencies adopting the defibrillator, but it is also being acquired by the private sector, including Northwest Airlines and the Mall of America.

The Lifepak 500 takes cardiac defibrillation to a "new dimension," according to Lemieux, by offering a fully integrated unit..

Because Lifepak 500 automatically determines which shock is right for the individual, complete with audible commands, it is arguable a fail-safe unit able to be used on any cardiac victim anywhere.

The unit’s field-tough design has been field-proven, according to Lemieux, in real-world emergency conditions.

The Rochester Police Department, one of the early users in southeastern Minnesota of the portable units, has documented a 42 percent "save" record far exceeding the national average of 5 percent. The department registered 64 "saves" from emergency medical responses and 32 were directly attributed to the use of the defibrillators the officers used.

Since their implementation in the Austin Police Department, Police Chief Paul M. Philipp reports wide usage and success with the defibrillators.

According to Sheriff Barry J. Simonson, who gave Hartquist the green light to pursue the research of portable defibrillators for the Sheriff’s Department, the units were purchased with "generous contributions" from the Austin Eagles, American Legion and Moose Lodge as well as county funds.

Hartquist is the department’s emergency medical services training officer. He will be updating the deputies’ and other jail detention officers’ defibrillator training on a regular monthly basis. Already skilled in advanced first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the deputies push their life-saving skills to a higher level with the new equipment.

Lemieux said one of his proudest experiences as a paramedic occurred when he saved a life with the defibrillator and earned an "I saved a life" T-shirt.

Hartquist was blunt about their importance.

"If this is a cardiac arrest situation, technically they’re already dead. You can only bring them back," he told sheriff’s deputies in training.

Protecting, serving and now saving.

In the case of a cardiac victim, they are all wanted alive, not dead.

Call Lee Bonorden at 434-2232 or e-mail him at