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ASCOG grant awards AEDs to local fire departments

Comanche County_Although there are many times that the fire department is the first responder no the scene during a medical emergency, believe it or not, some volunteer fire departments don't have Automatic Electronic Defibrillators (AEDs).  Without access to this lifesaving equipment, they can lose precious minutes waiting for paramedics.  However, thanks to a grant from the Association of South Central Oklahoma Governments (ASCOG), it's all about to change.

Thirty-one departments in our seven-county area - eight in Comanche County - received their AEDs, and although some departments have already had them, others are getting them for the first time - The Bethel Road Fire Department is one.  They now have access to their first and only defibrillator.  "So they'll be able to provide the next level of care to their people in their community and fire response area," said Comanche County Fire Chief Clint Wagstaff.

The Bethel Fire Department knows first hand how it feels to be first on the scene of an medical emergency, only to have to wait for the paramedics.  And, Wagstaff says those first few minutes of a heart attack are the most critical.  "Anything after five minutes and it's hard to bring a person back.  Survivability is not there," he says.

Cox's Store Fire Department has an AED, but Chief Al Dreves remembers a few times that they have had to split their resources - times when they really could have used two.  "Lets say we have two cardiac patients at the same time, at least we can take care of them instead of being at one and not having anything to go to the other one," he says.

Paramedics say that having an AED on hand could mean the difference between life and death - especially when they're responding to areas like Bethel Road or Cox's Store.  "It's gonna take a while for a paramedic unit to get from town out to them," says Comanche County Memorial Hospital Paramedic Anthony Neal.  "Well, with the fire departments having access to defibrillation, they're defibrillating 5-10 minutes faster than we can."  Neal says that when a person is in cardiac arrest, their chances of survival decrease 7-10% every minute the heart doesn't beat. 

It's an appropriate week to get these life saving devices - it's CPR/AED Awareness Week, and emergency agencies urge all of us to learn how to use these defibrillators.

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