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Fortville PD becomes latest to acquire defibrillators

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FORTVILLE — With the support of the Fortville Police Department, a civic group is trying to raise money to put a life-saving debrillator into each police car in town.

Fortville Action Inc. already has donated $1,200 to purchase the first machine. The organization hopes that encourages other groups and individuals to make donations as well.

An automated external defibrillator is a medical device that analyzes heart rhythms, and if necessary, can deliver an electrical shock that helps the heart re-establish an effective beat. They are becoming standard equipment at some police departments. The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, for example, now has the devices in all its cars.

The Fortville Police Department hopes to be able to add one AED to each police car and add others to locations including the Fortville Municipal Building, Chief Bill Knauer said.

According to the Red Cross, sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. More than 350,000 people will suffer from cardiac arrest this year, and an AED is the only effective treatment for restoring a regular heart rhythm during sudden cardiac arrest. The device is designed to be used by anyone, and no medical background is needed.

The average response time for first responders once 911 is called is eight to 12 minutes. For each minute defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival is reduced about 10 percent, according to the Red Cross.

That’s why more police departments are carrying them; often, police officers or deputies are the first people to arrive.

The Fortville Police Department hopes to acquire 12 AEDs.

“We’ve got 11 cars we need to put them in, and I’d like to have one for the town hall,” Knauer said.

The department needs nine more AEDs total, he added.

“We’ve made the first donation, but we thought we would also challenge the community, other community organizations, churches, auxiliary groups and others (to raise the funds),” said Theresa Werking, a member of Fortville Action. “This is something we need for the community.”

The best thing about the AED devices is that they can be used by anyone. There are clear and detailed instructions on the device.

“It will not let you shock them if they don’t need it,” Fortville Action member Milda Sterrett said. “Anybody can use it.”

Donations for the project can be made at the Fortville Municipal Building at 714 E. Broadway St. Checks should be made to the Fortville Police Department with a note that the money is going to the Police Defibrillator Fund.

Contributions are tax-deductible.

“It could save a life,” Werking said. “We feel like this is really important.”

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