By Travis Volz
Washington County residents can breathe a little easier thanks to lifesaving equipment purchased for the county.
A total of 17 new automated external defibrillator (AED) units were purchased for the county through grants from Insurance Planning and Management Group and Prairie State Generating Company.
Mary Wilkey of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office worked with county EMA administrator Matt Bierman to help cover the costs of the lifesaving equipment.
As a result of their efforts, the county will have more than a dozen new AEDs. Four others will replace existing units
The cost of each unit comes in at about $1,000 each. The new units will be distributed to sheriff’s department squad cars, which Bierman said has been a goal for a long time.
“This is a big deal for the county,” Bierman said. “We’ve been wanting to get them in squad cars for a long time, and with these grants, we can do it with less expense to the taxpayers.”
Funds for the lifesaving devices came from grants by Insurance Program Managers Group, which matched 50 percent of the cost of each unit, as well as $2,000 from Prairie State.
In addition to those new units, two replacement units will go to the highway department, as well as one in the courthouse and another in the jail.
Bierman said that training on the use of the devices is part of the first aid training eligible county employees receive.
The total cost to the county will is approximately $6,500.