Steamboat Springs Quick action by a woman driving through Steamboat Springs and emergency responders wasn’t enough to save the live of an Ohio man Thursday.
The woman was driving with her husband at about 3:15 p.m. when the man suddenly slumped over in the passenger seat. The woman saw a Routt County Sheriff’s Office SUV and followed the deputy through the back gate into the parking area behind the Sheriff’s Office in west Steamboat. There, she got the attention of Deputy Jacob Carlson and asked for help. Carlson called to his partner, Deputy T.J. Sisto, and the two immediately began CPR.
Sheriff’s Office Investigator Ken Klinger said it was a good decision by the woman.
“She had a presence of mind to follow the squad car through the gate into the back lot,” he said.
All of the deputies are trained in CPR, and Sisto gave chest compressions while Carlson performed emergency breathing.
The first ambulance with Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue emergency responders arrived on scene within three minutes of the initial call, according to call logs from dispatchers, and took the man to Yampa Valley Medical Center.
The heart of David Sunderland, the 63-year-old man from the Columbus, Ohio, again stopped while in the emergency room, and he was pronounced dead at 4:20 p.m.
Klinger said the response of the deputies was within a minute of talking to the woman, and Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said Sunderland had a “a little bit of a pulse” when he arrived at the hospital. Ryg said the man, a military veteran, had recently been to the doctor and had a number of medical issues.
Klinger said the issue highlights the importance of deputies having portable defibrillators in their vehicles. Klinger said he and other deputies got a defibrillator from the jail during Thursday’s emergency, but it took between six and eight minutes to get it through several locked doors out to the parking lot. By that time, the ambulance had arrived with its own equipment.
Klinger said it’s not clear whether a defibrillator would have saved Sunderland’s life, but it could have made a difference.
Sheriff Gary Wall has been pushing for defibrillators since he took office.
“It’s important to have those in all of my vehicles, even the animal control officers, because we’re all around the county,” he said.
Wall said he has requested the defibrillators for two years but that the request has not survived the budgeting process. He said it would cost about $30,000 to outfit the Sheriff’s Office’s entire fleet.
“This is exactly the kind of thing why I wanted that,” he said. “It deals with public safety in the county. For the small amount of money it seems to me, in terms of my over $4 million budget, to put those in all of our cars, it seems to me something we shouldn’t even be debating about.”
Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger has said in the past that he was reluctant to put the devices in cars without knowing more about them. On Friday, he said it’s still an issue the commissioners are considering for next year’s budget and that they have talked to doctors to learn more about them.
“I support the idea if they’re going to save lives, and then financially we can figure out how to wrangle the money up to get them in there,” he said.
Monger said it was important for the county to have a clear policy for where they devices should be placed around the county and that he didn’t want to rush into a decision.
“We wanted to make sure that people were trained and what our obligations and liabilities were,” he said.
He said they have been talking with a county health adviser, Dr. Brian Harrington, about what training would be necessary.
“I just don’t like going into things blindly and not knowing what we’re picking off,” Monger said.
More information about AEDs can be found here.