Throwback: In 1989, Indy FD makes first save with heart defibrillator

Posted: 6:00 AM, Jan 24, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-24 06:00:24-05

INDIANAPOLIS — An automatic external defibrillator, or AED, are commonly found in offices, schools and gymnasiums across Indiana. These small, often overlooked devices, can make the difference between life and death.

But defibrillators weren’t always so common. The life-saving devices weren’t available for first responders until the late 1980s.

In 1989, just eight Indianapolis Fire Department rescue squads had defibrillators. Each defibrillator cost $6,000 and approximately 140 firefighters were trained on the devices. At the time, IFD hoped to have a total of 30 defibrillators by the fall of 1990.

Firefighters credited a defibrillator with saving the life of a man on Indianapolis’ east side for the first time on Jan. 21, 1989. The victim’s heart stopped beating and firefighters administered four electric shocks, restarting the man’s heart.

Fortunately, defibrillators and automatic external defibrillators can now be found throughout downtown Indianapolis.

IndyCARES, a non-profit division of Indianapolis EMS, placed 49 AEDs for public use throughout Marion County from 2014-2016 thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Additionally, 27 AEDs were placed in the squad cars of IMPD officers with EMT certification.

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