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Devices to Help Fire Crews Aid Heart Attack Victims

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Glendale City Council on Tuesday allocated $75,000 to purchase a dozen automatic defibrillation machines to be used by firefighters in the emergency treatment of some heart attack victims.

One machine will be assigned to each of the city’s 12 fire stations, officials said. Firefighters usually are the first to respond to emergency calls--ahead of the four ambulances assigned to the city by its private contractor, Professional Ambulance.

City officials and health experts said the machines are critical in saving lives because they restore the heart rhythm of cardiac-arrest victims in the early minutes of a heart attack, often before an ambulance arrives.

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Fire Chief Richard Hinz said the equipment is used by 10 other jurisdictions in Los Angeles County, including the Los Angeles city and county fire departments.

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He said that the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services reported that in 1992 a total of 70 patients initially treated by firefighters using automatic defibrillators were released from hospitals.

“Automatic defibrillators have proven to be highly reliable in all laboratory tests and clinical studies,” Hinz said in a report to the council.

During 1991 contract negotiations, members of the Glendale Firefighters Assn. agreed to forgo seniority merit pay in order to allow the city to purchase the heart equipment, Hinz said.

Almost 85% of victims who suffer an out-of-hospital, non-traumatic cardiac arrest can benefit by use of the machines, Hinz said. Glendale firefighters have been trained in their use, he said.

The cost of the equipment is expected to be covered by additional revenues generated by a $75-per-call fee for emergency medical response authorized by the council last week.

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