HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- Police sometimes feel helpless when someone has a cardiac emergency and they don't have the tools to respond. Now the Holland Police Department is planning to add automated external defibrillator or AEDs to all of its patrol cars, as officers are often the first on the scene.
For officer Ed Streng, every call requires a different response. "We always talk about having plenty of tools in your toolbox." But right now, there's a life-saving skill he's not using. "We've been trained several years now how to use one."
Streng is talking about an AED, which shocks the heart back into a normal rhythm.
"There were times I didn't have what I needed to help someone," said Captain Jack Dykstra of the Holland Department of Public Safety. "Certainly, helpless when you know that capability is on the way but it's just not there yet."
Dykstra says the device is simple to use. "Once you turn it on, it basically starts talking to you."
Now, Holland police are also communicating to the city council why they need an AED in every patrol car. "Our goal is to have three (AEDs) placed in the units in this next fiscal year and a total of 19 of them, our total patrol fleet, over the next three years," said Dykstra.
The Holland Fire Department has been using AEDs for about two decades and fire officials say the number of lives saved speak for themselves. "We have one to two saves a year on average in the city of Holland," said Holland Fire Captain Chris Tinney.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, an AED used with CPR can increase the chance of survival by 75%.
"Police officers that are on the road, hopefully available to respond just as quick or maybe quicker than fire depending on the circumstances," said Dykstra.
The total cost for the AED's in Holland is about $50,000. The city council will vote on a budget, which includes the device, in mid-May.
WZZM 13 found several other local police departments that already have AEDs in their patrol cars. They include the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department, Grand Haven Public Safety, Zeeland police, Wyoming police, and the Allegan County Sheriff's Department.