Lifesaving partnership

Since Mahomet Police equipped their squad cars with cardiac defibrillators a few years ago, they’ve been used in life-or-death situations.

But this winter, the department may have set a new record. Since mid-December, they’ve logged three “saves”—incidents in which the devices made a lifesaving difference for patients in cardiac arrest.

But Police Chief Mike Metzler said that they can’t take the credit alone.

“The key to it, for us, is the partnership with Cornbelt,” he said.

When METCAD broadcasts a medical call that indicates a resident is in cardiac arrest, a crew from Cornbelt and Arrow Ambulance is on its way. 

But in some cases, a Mahomet police officer can get there a few minutes faster and start treatment before EMTs arrive.

Fire Chief John Koller said that in one of the recent incidents, an officer was “literally a block away” from the patient’s home when the call came in.

In these cases, those extra seconds and minutes can make a difference, Koller added. The officer is able to start CPR and use of the defibrillator, beginning life-saving treatment.

“These kinds of calls are life-and-death situations,” he said. “When someone is in that type of situation, seconds count.”

Automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, use electrical currents to help a heart in cardiac arrest to reestablish its normal rhythm. In recent years, they’ve become common in businesses, churches and other public places — as well as with first-responders.

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MPD officer David Parsons helped obtain grants for the purchase of the devices, which run around $1,500 apiece. Firehouse Subs donated eight AEDs, and a grant from Ameren provided funds for four more. 

Each squad car is equipped with an AED, and officers donated three to the village parks and recreation department and one to the streets and alley department.

Parsons, who’s also a volunteer with Cornbelt and a certified CPR instructor, provided training for his fellow officers.

He said he’s not surprised the devices have proved beneficial, but “three in this amount of time is unheard-of,” he added.

Parsons responded to two of those calls, while Metzler responded to a third. In all three cases, the officers were able to start CPR before Cornbelt and Arrow personnel arrived.

“It’s nice to be able to show up on the scene and do something,” Parsons said, noting that while CPR can be effective, it’s the AEDs that really make a difference.

But he said that the public shouldn’t shy away from using the devices themselves. Illustrations in the case, as well as voice-guided instructions, help bystanders intervene. Koller said that METCAD dispatchers are also able to walk users through the process.

“Even for the layperson, they’re very simple to use,” he said.

Metzler and Koller said that the good relationship between Mahomet Police and Cornbelt has helped both agencies better serve the community. It’s a relationship they both they value.

“It doesn’t happen this way everywhere,” Metzler said.

For Parsons and Metzler, the opportunity to save lives was especially poignant thanks to the time of year.

“The opportunity to send somebody home to their family for the holidays was what really struck me,” Metzler said.

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