News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 31, 2013

Vermillion sheriff’s efforts result in 13 AEDs

Brian Boyce
The Tribune-Star

NEWPORT — A close call involving a deputy helped jump start an area sheriff’s plan to place AEDs in each of his officers’ vehicles, a plan which came to fruition Wednesday.

Vermillion County Sheriff Bob Spence said overwhelming support via community donations has allowed him to purchase 13 automated external defibrillator units with more yet on the way.

“They’ve been proven. We’ve already had one officer who would have lost his life if it hadn’t been for an AED and citizens using CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to save his life,” Spence said.

Deputies and civilian staffers joined for a group training session Wednesday as the initial 13 units were delivered. Among them was Deputy Tim DisPennett, who suffered a heart attack in August, saved largely by staff from Union Hospital-Clinton and the use of an AED.

But as Spence pointed out, Vermillion County is largely rural and time is of the essence in cases of cardiac arrest. Deputies are often the first people to arrive on emergency scenes, and their having AEDs can save lives.

Spence launched a community drive to raise funds for the outfitting his staff with the devices, enough to augment the two that were already in the jail and sheriff’s office. Community donations ranged from single dollar bills up to $2,000 gifts, from individuals, businesses and clubs, he said.

“It’s been a very successful program, and today is the reward of that program,” he said of the department’s 13 new units. Three more have been ordered, and Spence said he hopes to continue with acquisitions.

The units cost about $1,000 each, excluding batteries, bags and other gear. According to information provided by Cardiac Science, the county’s vendor for the units, cardiac arrest claims more lives in the United States annually than breast cancer, prostate cancer, house fires, firearms, traffic accidents and AIDS combined.

When defibrillation is provided within 5 to 7 minutes, the survival rate is between 30 and 45 percent, the information states.

In addition to receiving training with the AEDs, staff from Union Hospital-Clinton provided a refresher course on CPR for personnel at Wednesday’s meeting.

The hospital’s Laura Wallace and Bernice Morris said the equipment and training is available to the public through the hospital.

“If I was the person who’d passed out, I’d want someone to revive me,” Morris said, emphasizing the importance of the training.

Wallace said once trained, refresher courses are often sufficient to keep skills sharp. Likening it to riding a bicycle, she said the techniques come back to mind when needed.

“You never know when you’re going to need it,” she said.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or