Friday, March 16, 2001

County hopes programs save lives

Kenton to add defibrillators, DUI test site

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        INDEPENDENCE — Kenton County police officers soon will be able to save the lives of people whose hearts stop and check the breath of suspected drunken drivers.

        County officials on Thursday announced the creation of two programs: the addition of kits containing portable defibrillators, blood pressure monitors and oxygen masks in four police cruisers; and the creation of a satellite breath-testing station in what was the kitchen at the former Independence fire station.

        The breath-testing station — on Ky. 17 next to the county courthouse — will keep police from having to set drunken drivers free because they weren't able to administer a breath test within the two hours required by state law.

    Kenton County Police announce:
    • New satellite breath test station in Independence on Ky. 17 that will process required tests for blood-alcohol content within the two-hour time limit required by state law.
   • New police cruiser equipment: four portable defibrillators; four blood pressure monitors; four oxygen masks; Certified First Responder training.
        Independence Police Chief Shawn Butler said the city and county have been talking about a satellite breath-testing station for about five years. Kenton County Police Chief Bill Dorsey said the state police department paid for the breath analysis equipment, with the county and the city of Independence paying to renovate the kitchen.

        “If we can get the system programmed, we'll get it ready for the first drunk (today),” Chief Dorsey said.

        Now, when a suspected drunken driver is nabbed, police have two hours to tow the car and conduct a blood-alcohol test at the county jail in Covington — or the person must be set free.

        Chief Butler said the process can tie up an officer for two to three hours if the driver is nabbed in southern Kenton County.

        Chief Dorsey didn't know how many suspected drivers have had to be released.

        “If it's one,” he said, “it's too many.”

        Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd — who announced the programs at a Thursday news conference — said about $25,000 from drug forfeitures will pay for the defibrillators and other equipment. Chief Dorsey said 20 to 25 officers are expected to volunteer for training on the equipment; training would be mandatory for future hires.

        Kenton County police Detective Tim Scheidt said four defibrillators and masks should be in place within 90 days. Elsmere Fire Chief Paul LaFontaine said the Kenton County Fire Chiefs Association would train the officers.

        Detective Scheidt said one of the kits will be at police headquarters in Independence. The others will be in units east and west of Ky. 17 and south of Interstate 275.

        All county police officers are trained in basic life support, which involves doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation and controlling bleeding, bandaging wounds, and helping choking victims.

        Detective Scheidt said the new training — called certified first responder — is a step above that. He said officers would still need to be certified for advanced life support/paramedic status.


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