The next time you see the flashing lights of a police cruiser, it just might be on its way to saving someone's life.
Soon, every police car in Berks County will be equipped with an Automatic External Defibrillator, or AED.
"This is a win-win for the citizens of Berks County, law enforcement, and the medical institutions," said Chief Ted Roth, Birdsboro Police Department.
It's all part of the HeartSAFE Berks County campaign, launched at the Berks County Chiefs of Police Association meeting in Alsace Township.
Dr. Michael Koslow, chief of cardiology at the Reading Hospital, explained how a defibrillator could mean the difference between life and death for a patient.
"What's been shown is that every minute that goes by without a defibrillator being applied to a patient who has suffered a cardiac arrest, their chances of surviving decreases by 10 percent, so literally, we're talking seconds.
Each AED unit will run about $1,500. They are fully automated. You simply apply the patch to the chest. The device will instruct the officer, analyze the patient's heart rhythm, and automatically determine if shocks are needed.
"The police chiefs are very enthused and it's contagious. It's just absolutely contagious," said Mary Ellen Batman, president of the Friends of the Reading Hospital, which was responsible for raising almost $300,000 for the HeartSAFE campaign.
Future plans include placing AEDs in area churches, schools, and recreation centers.
"We have usually concentrated on projects around the hospital, which of course would be far reaching in the community as well," said Batman. "But this is the type of project which you can almost see the results."
The goal is to have the new AEDs installed in all police vehicles in Berks County by Christmas.