A small police department is getting a big boost from new automated external defibrillators, which officers say will save lives.
The City of Granite Falls is only 12 square miles, but police officers are responsible for patrolling unincorporated areas as well, including a large, remote section of Snohomish County.
"Very rural country roads with ditches on both sides and lots of separation, unlike an urban area when you have five homes right on top of each other," said Christopher Ferreira, who is a Sergeant with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office and also serves as Granite Falls' police chief. "Sometimes there are five to 10 acres between two homes. Sometimes there are 20 to 30 acres in between."
Ferreira says that creates several challenges for his officers.
"Knowing that you're not going to have phone service in certain areas, you're not going to have access to regular communications, it makes it difficult if someone is having a medical emergency to request help. So when they do, normally we are the first people to arrive, being the police department," he said.
That's why he felt it was important to put automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, in their patrol cars. But for a small department with an even smaller budget, Ferreira knew it wasn't a simple request.
"If you have an AED and someone is having a cardiac incident, you increase the ability to bring them back or save their life by 65 percent. So to not have that as an option was unacceptable to me. One of the things I knew early on though, is that with budgetary constraints, that's not something we're able to pay for," he said.
He reached out to the nonprofit The Pilchuck Foundation for help.
"Each year, The Pilchuck Foundation raises funds from the Granite Falls community, and we issue grants to local law enforcement and the fire district for needed equipment," said Pilchuck Foundation President Catherine Anderson. "So they come to us with what their needs are."
Anderson said it's a purchase she was happy to make. It cost just over $5,000 for The Pilchuck Foundation to buy five AEDs. One will be kept at the Granite Falls police station, the others will be kept officers' patrol cars.
"If this equipment saves one life, it's worth it," she said.
"Thank goodness they decided they would do it. The foundation paid for every AED," he said. "This equipment is designed to intervene in a cardiac incident and bring your heart back into the proper rhythm. This is a device that should be available to the people we serve in this areas"
June 1-7 is actually National CPR & AED Awareness Week. According to The American Red Cross, sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. That's why the organization is encouraging people to learn how to use an AED.
To find a training class in your area, click here.