Lawrence Police Foundation completes goal to outfit each police car with an automated external defibrillator

The final four automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, were presented to the police department on Monday.

Michelle Derusseau, president of the Lawrence Police Foundation, and Police Chief Tarik Khatib visit Monday after the foundation presented the police department and the city with the final four automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, which means every patrol car will now have the device. The two-plus year project to get the AEDs was spearheaded by the foundation and was celebrated Monday at the Lawrence Police Investigations and Training Center.

A more than two-year initiative to outfit every police vehicle in Lawrence with an automated external defibrillator, or AED, was celebrated Monday morning at the Lawrence Police Investigations and Training Center.

The Lawrence Police Foundation in 2012 started a $47,000 fundraising goal to purchase the 34 AEDs needed to complete the project, which happened Dec. 24, LPF president Michelle Derusseau said. Before 2012, only 11 patrol cars had AEDs.

“Normally we would have a presentation at a City Commission meeting, but we wanted to celebrate together that we met this goal,” Derusseau said.

The foundation, which was formed in 2011 by citizens to support the police departement, chose to equip patrol cars with AEDs because police are often the first to respond to emergencies, and access to the medical equipment can help save lives, Derusseau said.

“When someone dials 911, because police are on patrol, they’re usually first to arrive,” Derusseau said. “Now on a cardiac arrest call, officers are running into the house with (an AED).”

Lawrence Police Department spokesman Sgt. Trent McKinley, who also works as a CPR and AED trainer for the department, said timing is crucial when it comes to cardiac arrest. McKinley said AEDs restart the heart, while CPR only continues oxygen and blood flow to the organs.

“For every one minute (without resuscitation), their survivability goes down by 10 percent,” McKinley said. “If it takes an extra four minutes for medics to arrive, that’s a 40 percent decrease.”

McKinley said police have not tracked how often the AEDs are used, but officers do use them frequently during medical emergency calls. The AEDs have been successful at saving multiple lives, McKinley said.

In November, officers received the department’s “Life Saving Award” for their timely and successful use of AEDs.

Two of the recipients, officers Jay Bialek and Justin Rhoads, used an AED to resuscitate a man who did not have a pulse May 6 in a southwest Lawrence home, McKinley said. Using the AED and CPR, the officers were able to keep the man alive until medical personnel could stabilize and transport him to the hospital.

Sgt. Mark Unruh was the third recipient, after resuscitating with an AED a man without vital signs in an East Lawrence home in November 2013, McKinley said. The AED, along with alternating chest compressions, kept the man alive until paramedics could arrive, McKinley said.

The money for the AEDs was raised through the LPF’s annual golf tournament fundraiser and through donations. This was the organization’s first project, and now that it has reached its goal, Derusseau is excited to see what the foundation tackles next.

“We didn’t dream it would happen this fast,” Derusseau said. “It’s a relief to know anybody you call is going to have an AED.”