ROGERSVILLE — A special committee comprised of county commissioners and emergency responders will determine where scores of new automated external defibrillators (AEDs) should be deployed after Hawkins County buys them.
Last month the county commission approved a motion to allocate $100,000 of Gov. Bill Lee’s one-time COVID-19 $1.176 million emergency Local Support Grant (LSG) funding to purchase AEDs for all county vehicles.
With Hawkins County EMS ambulances stretched thin at times, the idea was to train county employees to use AEDs in case they come upon a person experiencing cardiac arrest before an ambulance arrives.
On Friday, however, the county commission’s Public Safety Committee (PSC) agreed that while an AED might not be useful in all types of county vehicles, they would be useful in the vehicles of firefighters and rescue squad members, as well as in locations such as the courthouse and county offices.
County commission approval will be required to expand the AED deployment to non-county vehicles.
The PSC decided Friday to establish a panel that will determine which county vehicles would receive AEDs, as well as which which non-county agencies should receive AEDs for their vehicles as well. There is also expected to be discussion about placing AEDs in county offices.
That committee will be comprised of Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency Director Jamie Miller, as well as members of the PSC and representatives from the sheriff’s office, volunteer fire departments, rescue squads and Hawkins County EMS.
Originally the commission intended to purchase 100 AEDs with that $100,000.
However, retired firefighter Bill Killen, who serves on various public safety advisory committees, told the PSC Friday that there are remanufactured AEDs available for under $500 each, while new AEDs can cost as much as $2,000 apiece.
Killen also serves on a committee working to assist with AED training for the recipients.
HCSO Lt. Lynn Campbell told the committee he would anticipate that 35-40 AEDs would suffice for the sheriff’s patrol vehicles that are used regularly. Upon completion of its study, the new committee will return to the PSC with a recommendation on which other agencies and location should receive AEDs.
Hawkins County EMS Director Jason Murrell noted that if a county employee or nonprofit agency equipped with an AED is dispatched on a 911 call, EMS will require a first responder agreement.
That agreement must detail what they will respond to; spell out who will maintain the AED and the supplies; who will check them monthly for expired supplies and battery life; whose insurance covers their liability; and who is responsible for training.
The county will also have to submit to training that is approved by the HCEMS medical director; submit an annual list of AED users; and notify Hawkins County Central Dispatch who is equipped with AEDs.
Murrell noted that there will be recurring costs for maintenance of the AEDs.
Commissioner Bob Edens, who chaired Friday’s PSC meeting, noted that the county hasn’t even received the LSG funding yet to make the purchases, so this AED deployment “isn’t going to happen tomorrow.” Edens said all paperwork, liability, and training issues will be resolved before the AEDs are installed.
Jim Saylor of Hawkins County EMS referred the PSC to a community AED program launched in Seattle whereby the streetcars were equipped with AEDs and the public trained to use them. Over a period of two years, cardiac arrest deaths were reduced by 60%, Saylor noted.
Saylor said training is fairly quick and simple, and any child can follow the illustrated instructions posted on every AED.