First responders using AED save a man’s life

First responders using an AED (automated external defibrillator) from a Coon Rapids Police Department squad car saved a man’s life Sunday.

Shortly before 12:30 p.m. March 17, Officer Jesse Smith responded to a cardiac arrest call from a home on the 2000 block of 110th Avenue N.W.

On arrival, Smith found a 62-year-old man unconscious on the bedroom floor with his wife performing CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) on him.

Smith grabbed the AED from his squad car, hooked it up to the man and with assistance from quickly arriving Coon Rapids firefighters, he administered multiple shocks with it, he said.

Firefighters also performed CPR in tandem with the AED shocks.

Soon after a pulse was detected and the victim started breathing on his own, but he remained unconscious when he was taken by paramedics to the hospital after they had given him some medication through an IV, according to Smith.

Smith said he spoke to the man’s wife Monday and was told that he had been placed in an induced coma, but he was not on life support and his vital signs were normal.

The man was scheduled to be taken out of the coma Tuesday, he said.

A police officer for 10 years, the last seven with the Coon Rapids department, Smith said this was the first time he had used an AED in an effort to save a life.

And it is also the first time in responding to heart attack call that the victim “had been brought back,” he said.

“It’s a good feeling,” Smith said.

All 20 of the Coon Rapids Police Department squad cars were equipped with AEDs by the end of last year, while AEDs have been installed in all Coon Rapids Fire Department vehicles for some time.

And since the beginning of the year, this is not the first time that an AED in a police squad has been used to save a life.

According to Officer Bryan Platz, who is spearheading Coon Rapids’ efforts to become an American Heart Association Heart Safe community, the combined efforts of Blaine and Coon Rapids police officers using an AED saved the life of a man who was found slumped over in his vehicle in a snow bank on University Avenue at 117th Avenue, the morning of Valentine’s Day Feb. 14.

The Blaine resident, 57, suffered cardiac arrest while driving to work, Platz said.

Officer Russ Clark from Blaine Police Department was at the scene within two minutes of the call, immediately hooked up the AED from his squad to the man and Coon Rapids Officer Briana Johnson arrived in another two minutes to assist Clark, he said.

“Time is of the essence and we got the two-minute window in this incident, which is vitally important,” Platz said.

According to Johnson’s police report, Coon Rapids Police Chief John Piper and a Blaine community service officer were also on the scene performing CPR on the man.

Now recovered, the man and his family sent the Coon Rapids Police department a thank you note.

These two cases show the importance of having AEDs in police squad cars, Platz said.

“It’s the proof of the pudding,” he said.

A third incident in January did not turn out so well,  Platz said.

That’s when Officer Pat Morris used an AED that had just been placed in her squad car to respond to a sudden cardiac arrest in a 30-year-old Coon Rapids woman.

While the woman had a pulse and was breathing again when she was taken to the hospital, she died two weeks later, according to Platz.

In this case, too much time had elapsed between the woman suffering sudden cardiac arrest and her being found, Platz said.

To become a heart safe community, there are certain criteria that have to be met, including having 17 AEDs placed in Coon Rapids businesses, having a specific number of people training in CPR and AED use, both of which are based on population, and scheduling public events, Platz said.

Efforts to meet those criteria are now under way, he said.

According to the American Heart Association Heart Safe Community brochure, designation as a heart safe community “makes the community a safer place to live, work and play by being prepared to reduce the number of deaths and disabilities associated with sudden cardiac arrest.”

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]