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Why it took more than a year for 20 defibrillators to be deployed in Riverside County

By in Press Enterprise on February 9, 2018

By Jeff Horseman

Riverside County asked an ambulance company to provide 20 automated external defibrillators to be placed throughout the county as life-saving tools for those struck by cardiac arrest.

The request came in December 2016. The defibrillators are only now being deployed, the result of a more complicated than expected process of choosing sites for the devices and county officials’ desire to keep better track of them.

Riverside County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries

County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries asked about the defibrillators at a Board of Supervisors meeting last month during an annual review of American Medical Response’s performance as the county’s contracted provider of emergency medical transport.

“A lot of those defibrillators have not been deployed, not because of AMR, but because of the county’s internal decision-making process,” said Jeffries, a former volunteer firefighter.

He added: “I want to offer my services to assist department heads to make sure that those defibrillators are actually deployed to save lives, not deployed to cardboard boxes full in some storage room, where they will not serve anybody.”

The defibrillators were not sitting in boxes, said Bruce Barton, director of the county’s Emergency Medical Services Agency, which oversees AMR’s contract.

“We get them from AMR as we have places to put them,” Barton said.

As part of its contract, AMR is required to invest in enhancements to the county’s emergency medical services system. The request for defibrillators, sometimes referred to as AEDs, stemmed from that, said Barton, adding that no county money will be spent to buy or maintain the devices.

Barton said officials wanted the defibrillators to go in places where it made the most sense – areas with a high elderly population, for example.

“In doing so, we discovered there’s a lot of AEDs already out there,” including schools and businesses, Barton said.

“There’s no real system-wide organization for the AED program or where they’re placed […]    

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