Miller looking at life-saving equipment

Published 10:28 am Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A TOSS BAG THAT contains about 70-100 feet of rope is one of various pieces of equipment that emergency responders could potentially use to save the life of someone in danger in the water.

Bainbridge Public Safety Director Eric Miller, who spoke before the City Council on the topic of aquatic rescue, shared additional ideas about how his officers could help in emergency situations.

Although the City Council had some questions about the cost and extent of an aquatic response capability provided by BPS, Mayor Edward Reynolds said the council would continue to study the issue in the future.

Miller said Friday he had visited the council to get their direction on what the city’s role in aquatic rescue should be. He said that, based on the council’s response, he plans to look into how BPS could possibly partner more closely with the Sheriff’s Office and County Fire and Rescue on providing emergency response to incidents on the Flint River that occur within city limits.

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“My concern is that we have 2.5 miles of river within city limits,” Miller said. “Right now, we have no means or equipment to provide a rescue to someone who is in danger on the water.”

Before coming to Bainbridge, Miller was the public safety director in Albion, Mich. Albion, like Bainbridge, has a river running through the middle of its city limits.

Miller shared with the City Council how, in his previous job, he and fellow officers occasionally had to rescue people who drove off a road into the river. He suggested putting toss bags, which contain 70-100 feet of rope, inside the trunk of BPS patrol cars.

“[Toss bags] are a tool for the officer who arrives first on the scene [of an aquatic incident] to quickly attempt to provide aid to someone in the water,” Miller said.

An officer would tie a loop of rope around his wrist and then throw the toss bag towards the endangered person. As the bag flies through the air, the coil of rope inside it spools out, ideally providing a link between the victim and the officer.

Toss bags are just one of many options, according to Miller. There are also rescue sticks that can be thrown to a person in the water and inflate with air to keep them afloat; and various other personal flotation devices.

Miller, who is a certified scuba diver, said that if some point in the future the City Council chooses to have BPS officers use a boat for safety patrols or emergency rescues, officers would need to undergo specialized aquatic training. However, he said all officers at BPS currently know how to perform CPR and basic first aid.

Another piece of equipment Miller said he wants to consider for general emergencies are AEDs (automated external defibrilators), electronic devices that have the ability to automatically diagnose what’s wrong with someone in cardiac arrest, and then restart their heart.

“Having AEDs in our patrol cars would naturally be a fit for us, since officers are on the road so much,” Miller said.

In the past, Decatur County Fire and Rescue has helped county volunteer fire departments get grants to put AEDs at their fire stations. Many large businesses also put AEDs, which are designed to be easy-to-use even for people without training, in their workplaces.