Ravalli Co. workers receive AED training


HAMILTON, Mont. - Ravalli County employees received hands-on life-saving training to be better prepared for health emergencies.

The county has purchased several AEDs, or automated external defibrillators, which automatically diagnose cardiac arrests.

On Tuesday employees from the Ravalli County Attorney's Office, Environmental Health and County Extension were in training at the fairgrounds.

The AED machine gives step-by-step instructions.

"Before a person dies the heart goes into defibrillation," said instructor Alice Brace. "It has lost its rhythm and the AED will actually stop the heart and let the heart regain its own rhythm and start beating again. The heart needs that beat to put oxygen to the brain."

County workers also received or brushed up on CPR training. Having more employees proficient in these skills could save a life in the time before an ambulance arrives.

The road department has two AEDs, including a mobile machine. It could help workers injured on the job or people they come in contact with on their routes.

"Like people stuck in cars in cold weather," Road Department worker Steve Henault said. "Somebody may have had a heart attack and an AED could help."

The county AEDs are registered with the 911 center.

"That gives emergency medical dispatch instructions to the callers on how to use those specific devices," said Emergency Management director Erik Hoover.

Hoover said the county machines cost anywhere from $1,100 to $1,200 each.

The Ravalli County Fairgrounds does not have an AED. Fairgrounds manager Cryss Anderson plans to put it in her budget.

"I feel like the volume of folks we have coming through the fairgrounds annually," she said, "is significant to warrant the purchase."

Every year tens of thousands of people pass through county facilities.

The Ravalli County Courthouse, Administration, Detention, Road Department and Sheriff's Office have the machines,

Six are assigned to sheriff's patrol units.