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Police vehicles soon to carry defibrillators

MIT's Campus Police will be equipped with up-to-date lifesaving equipment by the end of April that will permit them to respond more quickly and efficiently to incidents of cardiopulmonary arrest, Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin announced last week.

"This adds one more tool for us to use in the delivery of emergency medical service to the MIT community," she said.

The department's 51 patrol officers and supervisors, all of whom are certified EMTs or first responders, are receiving five hours of special training in the use of the automatic external defibrillators (AEDs), which will be placed in the Campus Police ambulance and four marked patrol vehicles.

Currently, Campus Police call for an advanced life support ambulance with an AED when responding to a person having a heart attack.

Since each minute lost reduces a patient's survival chances by 10 percent, the rapid response of police with an AED is invaluable. The machine continues to monitor the heart after the initial shock for a lapse into a life-threatening rhythm.

The 8-by-8.5 inch machine weighs 4.5 pounds. It is activated by following simple 1-2-3 device guides after the officer attaches pads under the victim's left arm and in front of the right shoulder. The machine analyzes the heart's rhythm and issues a "shock now" order with voice commands and written prompts. The officer pushes a button to activate the treatment. The machine continues to watch for a relapse and orders a second shock if necessary.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 4, 2001.

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