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King County Sheriff John Urquhart’s shocking mission

When a King County deputy woke up a drunk driver outside of Kent a week ago, he suddenly found himself in a roadside brawl. But that was just the start of his problems.

The deputy found a car stopped in the middle of Kent-Kangley Road around 1 a.m. March 6. The driver was asleep. Two other deputies were called to the scene to assist. They tried to wake up the 21-year-old driver multiple times. Eventually, the man behind the wheel responded — and he wasn’t sleepy anymore.

“And a fight was on,” said King County Sheriff John Urquhart. “It was a pretty good-sized fight.”

“They finally got him into custody, and got the cuffs on him,” he said. “But one of the deputies didn’t get up.”

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The deputy lying on the ground suffered a medical emergency — a heart attack. He appeared gray as his colleagues proceeded to administer CPR. But it was an AED that ultimately saved the deputy’s life. Not too long ago, the life-saving unit wasn’t in any King County patrol car. But the sheriff has been working to change that. The deputy is lucky that he has.

“They were able to shock his heart to get it going again,” Urquhart said. “In fact, they shocked him twice at the scene, and twice more before getting to the hospital.”

“He survived, we think, because we equip our deputies with these AED devices,” he said. “He would not be here today if not for this AED we had on scene.”

The need for AED

But the plight of the deputy is but one chapter in another story — Sheriff Urquhart’s effort to supply AED units in all his patrol cars. It’s a costly goal. So much that the sheriff’s office has set up a GoFundMe page to raise the money to buy the units. It will cost about $125,000 to accomplish the goal.

AED stands for automated external defibrillator. It’s a device that sends an electrical charge to the heart to get it pumping again. Many King County patrol cars are equipped with the devices, however, this wasn’t always so.

“When I became sheriff we had 75 of them, back in 2012,” Urquhart said.

The AED units were not initially budgeted for. But that changed. The sheriff’s office said it has been able to purchase more and still live within its means. Each unit costs around $1,000, though, after the deputy’s story broke, sales reps started calling the sheriff’s office. They got the price down to $823.

“We need about 450 to outfit every patrol car,” he said. “Right now we are at about 280.”

It took the sheriff five years to build up to that many AED units. The first 53 were funded through the Medic One Foundation.

They are issued to deputies after a short training. Battery replacement is the main cost of maintenance.

The Sheriff notes that sometimes the fire department is able to be first on scene to a medical emergency, but it’s not uncommon for a deputy to arrive before anyone else.

“They use them fairly regularly,” Urquhart said. “Seconds literally count.”


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