"I'm from the government and I'm here to help you."
That well-worn saying brought a chuckle from the Upson County Commissioners and those attending last week's meeting, but Billy R. Watson, regional coordinator for the 12-county area, really was there to help.
Watson presented several county fire departments with equipment to save lives.
The $1200 portable heart defibrillators were presented to the City of Thomaston, City of Yatesville, Northside and Thurston fire departments because the firefighters in those departments have undergone training to respond to emergencies.
Training firefighters, Watson said, is critical to saving lives. "Patients who have a cardiac arrest have a small window to survive," said Watson. With as little as six
minutes making the difference between life and death, having someone on the scene with training in the use of defibrillators and other basic care is critical. Because volunteer firefighters live in the communities they serve, they often get to the scene of an emergency before an ambulance arrives. Training means the firefighter can offer life-saving care.
EMS training instructor Richard Lee has worked with volunteer and paid firefighters throughout Upson and surrounding counties. "There are hundreds of nationally registered certified first responders in this region," Watson said. "In that way, this area is unlike anywhere else in the state." He praised Lee and the firefighters who have undergone the training. He noted that Upson County has about 100 people who have earned national certification as "first responders" to emergencies.
The external defibrillators cost $1200 each and the fully equipped "jump bag," for use in other trauma situations, cost an estimated $250 each.
The purchases were made with a combination of state and federal money.
Firefighters from the City of Yatesville were the first to complete the training and at the commission meeting last week Yatesville Fire Chief Ronnie Riggins accepted the first automated defibrillator license in the Georgia. Each of the other departments receiving the equipment were licensed as well.
In other business, Upson County Commissioners: