The University of Texas-Pan American Department of Environmental Health and Safety has equipped the University Police Department with three Automated External Defibrillators (AED's) to carry at all times in case of emergencies.
"As the UTPA PD officers are regularly the first responders to any situation on campus, it was determined that having these AED's and the accompanying training would greatly benefit the UTPA community," said Saul Jauregui, interim director, Environmental Health and Safety. "It is the goal of the DEHS to complete this training for all the UTPA PD officers and guards by the end of 2003."
The University police officers and DEHS personnel were trained on the proper use of AED's, CPR and basic first aid during a DEHS sponsored training on Nov. 8.
Jauregui said that statistics show more than 350,000 deaths annually are due to cardiac arrest.
He said most often, cardiac arrest is due to ventricular fibrillation (chaotic beating of the heart), which can be restored to a normal rhythm if treated early with defibrillation (electric shock), which can result in 90 percent survival.
UTPA Police Chief Howard Miller said the sooner an injured person can get medical treatment after the initial trauma the higher the probability of survival, and that is known as the "Golden Hour."
"In the case of a heart attack within minutes the heart fails and oxygen to all organs including the brain are stopped. The normal outcome is death or severe brain damage. The sooner the heart can be 'jump started' the higher the probability of survival," Miller said. "Every second is essential. Since the police are the first responders in all emergencies we felt it was important to have them (AED's) readily accessible."
The AED's are lightweight, run on rechargeable batteries, analyze the heart rhythm and indicate when to shock. Due to the design of the AED's, the devices cannot be misused, meaning they will not deliver a shock if placed on a person with a beating heart.
"We are pleased to have the AED's. They will provide an additional tool that will permit us to better serve the University Community," Miller said. "Once we were convinced that AED's were safe and user-friendly we moved forward. The AED's are very simple to operate and can make the difference between life and death."
Miller said more defibrillators may have to be purchased in the future as the University continues to grow, and will be distributed throughout the campus to different departments in addition to the University Police.