All Floyd County Sheriff’s Department vehicles will now be equipped with AEDs, thanks to a donation that was presented Tuesday by Lifeguard Ambulance.
The company donated nine AEDs to the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department and pledged to keep the devices equipped at no cost to the department.
“These will operate at no cost to the department. If they need preventive maintenance, inspections, batteries, if they need replacement pads because they’ve used them, we will supply all of that. This is a no-cost opportunity for the sheriff’s department,” said Bert Absher, director of operations for Lifeguard Ambulance’s East Kentucky branch.
The donation came about after Kings Daughter’s Medical Center provided an AED and training about how to use AEDs to sheriff deputies earlier this year.
“We were one of the first offices, probably, in Eastern Kentucky to get an AED in that program, and some of the guys thought that was just a great thing to do,” Sheriff John Hunt said.
He said after that donation, Absher came to his office and they were talking about “how, in today’s world, law enforcement and medical” go hand-in-hand.
“So, we just thought, with the shortage of medical personnel and EMTs, it would be great if every one of our cruisers and every one of our deputies were trained and had access to a defibrillator, a portable defibrillator,” Hunt said. “And, man, in no time, Bert said, listen, we’re on board. We’re going to do that.”
Absher emphasized the need for local first responders to work together.
“It’s another way for us to grow our resources and to increase our capabilities to all the citizens we serve,” he said.
Hunt, a former EMT, reported that several Floyd County Sheriff’s Department deputies are already trained as emergency medical technicians.
On Tuesday, he announced that the sheriff’s department will offer pay increases to any deputy who wishes to obtain EMT certification.
After learning about that incentive, Absher said Lifeguard will train any Floyd County Sheriff Deputy who wants the EMT certification at no cost.
He encourages other counties served by Lifeguard to reach out with a need that the company may be able to fill.
“I encourage them to do exactly what the sheriff done, and he reached out to us with a need,” Asher said. “We want to meet the needs of Eastern Kentucky. We want to make a difference. We want to do what’s not been done before. We’ll work with our partners in law enforcement in all the counties that we operate in because we’re a multi-county operation. We’ll work with the fire departments to make sure they have what they need.”
Hunt said the department would not have been able to purchase any AED and justify the purchase through required documentation because law enforcement officials are not legally required to have defibrillators.
As president of the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association, Hunt said, however, that he will work to have emergency medical services training for police in the future.
He said law enforcement officials deal with more medical emergencies than in prior years.
“When I started policing 30-some years ago, a gun belt was nothing but a gun, a handcuff case and a place to hang your radio and a flashlight,” Hunt said. “Man, if you look at a deputy today, he’s weighted down with gloves, masks, medical supplies, a first aid kit on his gun belt. And you go to the trunk, and you get Narcan and you get a defibrillator. It goes to show you how we’re shifting and how cross-training is more important than ever.”