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Resuscitation. 2007 Mar;72(3):386-93. Epub 2006 Dec 6.

The role of law enforcement agencies in out-of-hospital emergency care.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Grace Hospital, Blue Ridge Health Care, 2201 South Sterling Street, Morganton, NC 28655, and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Tri-Community South EMS, PA 15207, United States.



A key component of out-of-hospital emergency care is the rapid response of trained providers with appropriate medical equipment. In some communities, law enforcement agents function as first responders to accomplish this goal. The purpose of this national survey was to assess the proportion of law enforcement agencies that provide medical care to determine the extent of care they provide, to identify how many use AEDs, and to assess the attitudes of agency leaders regarding their roles as medical first responders.


Eight hundred agencies were selected at random from a national database of 43,000 agencies available through the National Public Safety Bureau (Stevens Pt, WI). These agencies were sent a 19-question survey either by US mail or telephone.


Four-hundred and fifty-four (57%) surveys were returned, and 420 (53%) were available for use after exclusion criteria were applied. Eighty percent of law enforcement agencies respond routinely to medical emergencies and 39% of these reported they deploy AEDs. Thirty-one percent of all law enforcement agencies are equipped with AEDs, a ten-fold increase from 2.6% reported in a previous national study in 1997. Funding issues were the most common reasons cited for not using AEDs. Approximately 75% of respondents agreed that law enforcement agencies should provide initial emergency medical care and indicated that officers in their agency would be willing to receive additional training to accomplish this.


Based on this survey, law enforcement agents often serve as medical first responders. Nearly three quarters of responding agencies felt this role was appropriate. AEDs are now deployed much more frequently than indicated by a previous national study, but still less than one-third of law enforcement agencies carry AEDs as part of their standard response equipment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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