GALENA-"We want to say thank you to the Jo Daviess County Fair Charities," Galena Police Chief Jerry Westemeier told the Gazette last week. "If it wasn't for them, we never could have upgraded these two defibrillators."
The Galena Police Department recently received two of the latest model defibrillators, paid for by a grant from JDC Country Fair Charities.
The defibrillators cost $975 each, for a total donation of $1,950, which the police department greatly appreciates, but Westemeier added that one of the major pluses of the two new units, surprisingly enough, has to do with the cost of replacement batteries.
The special non-rechargeable batteries used in defibrillators cost about $375 each, and up to now had a guaranteed working life of two years. The batteries in the new units have a guaranteed working life of four years, and the grant covered two batteries for each unit, so the department now has a guaranteed working life of eight years for each of the new units.
Westemeier said the older units they are using now are approaching six years of use, so the department was facing some fairly heavy battery replacement costs in the not too distant future.
He said they plan to move two of the older units now used in squad cars, one to the swimming pool and one to the police department office, and put the two new units in two of the department's four squad cars.
"It's definitely very, very important to have a defibrillator carried in every squad car," Westemeier stated. He said that because police cars are usually on patrol somewhere in the city when an emergency call comes in, the police are usually the first emergency vehicles to arrive.
"We usually get to an emergency call within one to four minutes," he said. "We also carry an oxygen tank in all squad cars, and if the situation calls for it we give oxygen first, and then apply the defibrillator. We respond first to 98 or 99 percent of all the emergency calls that come in. All our staff are trained to use the defibrillators and are CPR certified.
"We always try to update our equipment every so many years, and I'm hoping to update two more defibrillators next year-the Country Fair Charities have taken care of this year," Westemeier continued. "The batteries were getting costly, but just saving one life is more than worth the money we spend. We always hope we'll never have to use them, but they're there and they can save a life.
"So we say a big thank you to the Country Fair Charities," Westemeier concluded. "They're a great organization!"
Excerpts and photography courtesy of Galena Gazette.