PELL CITY — The Pell City Police Department says all officers will now have access to automated defibrillators and water rescue equipment.
Pell City Police Chief Paul Irwin said Wednesday every patrol vehicle at the Pell City Police Department is now equipped with a Rescue Mate Throw Bag and Automated External Defibrillator. He said with this equipment officers will help officers better serve residents.
“We wanted to have these devices available to our personnel for their protection and to protect civilians,” Irwin said.
The chief said the throw bags are meant to help in situations in which someone is in need of assistance while in Lake Logan Martin and other waterways. He said the bag can be thrown to someone up to 70 feet away or an officer can go into the water with another officer anchoring them to the shore in order to rescue someone.
Irwin said there have been several incidents where vehicles drove into the lake along with other fatalities in the lake over the last year. There was also an incident in June where a man fled into the lake after being pursued by a Pell City police officer, but was not able to return to shore and was later found dead. The chief said if the officer had a throw bag the incident could have had a better outcome.
“We could have saved his life if we had this,” Irwin said.
He said the idea for getting the throw bags came from looking at what tools could be useful, with a bit of inspiration from the department's dive team.
“I want our officers to have the tools necessary for the protection of themselves or to save a citizen's life,” the chief said. “Our dive team has great tools for recovery and to protect themselves, which made me think of ways we could protect the public as well.”
He said he attended the dive training class back in June of this year and decided on the bags after talking it over with Officer Justin Cooper.
Irwin said he hopes to share the idea with other local law enforcement agencies.
The chief said last week the department also purchased 20 AEDs with the Pell City Police Foundation funds. These AEDs will go into each patrol vehicle. He said while supervisors and some SWAT operators already had these in their vehicles from previous purchases by the Police Department and the Police Foundation, this will completely fill the patrol division and other units with an AED.
Iriwn said that these devices offer step by step instruction while in use and analyse a person after they are hooked up to make sure they are needed. He said the Pell CIty Fire Department will also be helping train officers in the use of the devices.
Irwin said many departments have these devices and the Pell City fire department has equipment for the same person but when every second counts these are necessary in all buildings and in police vehicles.
“I have personally witnessed one of these devices save an officer's life while training,” He said. “Unfortunately, I know of several officers who have died and an AED was not available during training and while doing physical training.”
Irwin said ultimately this is another opportunity for his department to be able to help others and keep officers safe at the same time. He said he appreciates the city of Pell City and the Pell City Police Foundation for making it possible.