Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Increasing the Odds

Emily Tamberino

VAIL CO — While Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is the nation's leading cause of unexpected death only one out of 35 Eagle County Sheriff's Office patrol cars was equipped with an Automated External Defibrillator (DEFIB)—until now. Thanks to a partnership between Starting Hearts and Vail Valley Medical Center (VVMC) seven DEFIBS were recently placed in Eagle County Sheriff's Office patrol cars with the intent to save lives. This signifies a big step in making Eagle County the safest place in America to experience SCA.

Patrol deputies provide law enforcement services 24 hours a day seven days a week to the residents of unincorporated Eagle County and are often first on the scene of medical emergencies like SCA. In addition to receiving the seven new defibrillators the deputies and staff are being trained in compression based CPR and how to use the DEFIBS.

The partnership between Starting Hearts and VVMC has been instrumental in transforming Eagle County into a model community for saving the lives of SCA victims and extending access and education to the Sheriff's Office is an important milestone in the process.

“We believe that access as well as education will absolutely save lives” says VVMC President and CEO Doris Kirchner. “We're grateful to the Eagle County Sheriff's Office for sharing our vision and supporting our initiatives.”

VVMC has played an important role in the rise of DEFIBS throughout the county with a commitment to add 50 additional units in accessible highly trafficked locations bringing the total number in Eagle County to 350. The partnership between the hospital and Starting Hearts is made possible by a generous donation to the VVMC Foundation.

Starting Hearts' founder Lynn Blake believes that placing defibrillators in the Sheriff's Office cars is vital to accelerating response time for SCA victims and will save lives.

“The survival rate for someone undergoing Sudden Cardiac Arrest drops by ten percent with each passing minute” said Blake. “Oftentimes patrol officers from Eagle County will be the first on the scene and it's important for them to have access to the tools to deliver a life-saving shock.”

The Eagle County Sheriff's Office has embraced the DEFIBS and training as tools to help them achieve their mission.

“The Sheriff's Office is committed to making Eagle County a safe place to live and play” explained Sheriff James Van Beek. “Toward this goal we partnered with VVMC and Starting Hearts in their efforts to make defibrillators accessible and train first responders.”

The cars receiving the units will be marked with a sticker designating them as DEFIB-equipped. According to Van Beek the addition of DEFIB units in patrol cars will be important for patrollers servicing the entire county. The DEFIBS will be placed in patrol cars stationed in more remote parts of Eagle County and along the I-70 corridor. Given the positive response from the Sheriff's Office Van Beek explained they plan to equip more patrol cars with the devices.

“We are expecting to train our Deputies and have DEFIBS in all patrol cars over the next few years” said Van Beek.

About Vail Valley Medical Center
Founded in 1965 VVMC has grown into one of the world's most advanced mountain healthcare systems providing 24/7 emergency care Olympic-quality sports medicine evidence-based research modern cancer care and extensive cardiology services. An independent nonprofit medical center VVMC keeps nearly 900 jobs and resources local better serving our community and visitors. Providing superior health services with compassion and exceptional outcomes VVMC offers low infection rates free community services and top-rated patient satisfaction scores.

About Starting Hearts
Starting Hearts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to saving the lives of sudden cardiac arrest victims. By providing outreach and education Starting Hearts empowers individuals to confidently act as citizen first responders while medical professionals are en route. The organization relies on donations to place and maintain Automated External Defibrillators (DEFIBs) in as many public places as possible to serve citizens when needed.

About Eagle County Sheriff's Office
Founded in 1883 the Eagle County Sheriff's Office provides professional law enforcement services throughout 1700 square miles of unincorporated Eagle County including contract services with the Town of Gypsum and Town of Minturn. The Sheriff is responsible for housing and transporting inmates coordinating search and rescue and wildland fire services as well as serving civil papers and executing writs.