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Sheriff's office now carrying AEDs in all patrol units
POINTE COUPEE PARISH - There's a bigger push to equip life-saving devices for those who need them most. In Pointe Coupee Parish, deputies now have access to vital equipment that could be the difference between life and death.
We're starting to see an uptick in parishes, schools and businesses obtaining AEDs in their facilities. Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff's Deputies now have them in their patrol units.
These devices give you step-by-step directions on how to work an AED and increase the percentage of saving a life. The sheriff's office started putting these devices inside their own patrol units in July.
"We want to be proactive, we don't want to be last, we want to take the initiative and be on the forefront and this is one of our projects," said Sheriff Rene Thibodeaux. "We understand the importance of having these in each one of our units. In July, we got our first eight, so we put two on each shift back in July and now in January, every unit in Pointe Coupee Parish has these AEDs in there to help save a life."
Roger Mattei with Zoll Medical is trying to get every agency in the state on board with the movement. Currently, Louisiana is not required to have these life-saving devices in law enforcement vehicles.
Mattei hopes that will change in the future, especially now that Senator Cleo Fields has created a bill to require AEDs in all schools.
"Many states across the country have laws that require them on schools campus and at every sporting event. Here in Louisiana, we did not have that law. When Cleo Fields stepped up and wrote that bill and hopefully, it will get passed, we're going to have these devices in schools. Across the United States, we lose over 10,000 children a year to cardiac arrest. Often times they are at the school, either at school or sporting events to support the school. So, having these devices will save lives."
Mattei says in Louisiana, only about 15 to 20% of law enforcement cars have the devices.
"Having an AED increases survival," Mattei said. "If we rely strictly on fire and EMS it only produces about a 5% save rate. When we put them in patrol cars, in buildings and schools, in places of business, we raise that to about 70% survival rate."
Since the sheriff's office started putting them into their patrol units, the devices have only had to be used one time: on Sheriff Thibodeaux's father.
"You never know who you're going to drive up on to on the scene," said the sheriff. "When I got the call, unfortunately, it was my father. You just have no idea who you're going to meet on the streets, it's going to be someone's relative, someone's dad, mother, father, sister. That's why we have to have these things because we want to save anybody's life that we possibly can."
That AED was able to bring his father back. They transported him to the hospital and Sheriff Thibodeaux got to be with his father just one last time. He died at the hospital later that day. He was 85 years old.
Still, the push is crucial. The next step is to move to other parishes and get those agencies on board and put more of the AEDs into patrol units, schools and more businesses, and hopefully, have AEDs as a requirement in those facilities.
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