Monday, June 1, 2009

SIMPLY SHOCKING

SIMPLY SHOCKING: The nooks and crannies of labyrinth of Kaua`i county government oft contain the meat that feeds the Minotaur.

At first blush a communication (C-2009-203) on this week’s council agenda from Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri Carvalho seems innocuous, enough asking for the council’s

approval to apply,(sic) receive and expend federal funds in the amount of $191,079.00 to expend funds on salaries, and training and for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, as well as replace AED equipment, the K-PAL Football and Cheerleading Program, training and overtime for the Kaua`i Police Department.

(No, don’t worry- it’s just Carvalho’s notorious difficulty with the English language that might make it sound like she’s going to “replace... the K-PAL Football and Cheerleading Program” and KPD “training and overtime” in the grant budget.)

Seems innocuous enough. Your guess at what “AED equipment” might be is as good as ours was if you just read the communication itself- some kind of “automatic exercise device” for football or cheerleading perhaps.

To find out what it really is you read the “attachment”. Buried in the middle of the third page of a seven page document- much of which details of the department’s notorious process serving backlog as well as other prosecutorial needs- is these two paragraphs.

The Kaua`i Police Department currently has a total of 15 Auto External Defibrillators (AED). The 15 AED machines are spread between each beat, substation as well as the County of Kaua`i cell block. The AED machines were first purchased in 1999. Training for the AED is typically completed at the same time each Officer is trained in First Responder and in CPR. Although there has not been a recorded incident when these machines have had to be used, it is still very necessary to have them available as often times KPD Officers are the first to arrive on a scene, and may need them in case of emergency.

Replacing all of the AED’s is necessary as some no longer function as the batteries are no longer in service. Having the same AED’s for each beat, substation and cell block will help with the consistency and training for officers in utilizing these machines that can ultimately result in saving someone’s life.

After reeling in our jaw it was hard to know where to begin with this bit of absurdity.

The most obvious questions pertains to exactly why they haven’t been used for 10 years. If it’s “very necessary (not just necessary but VERY necessary) to have them available as often times KPD Officers are the first to arrive on a scene”, and “may need them in case of emergency” the fact they haven’t been used would seem somewhat incongruous.

Did they forget they were there? If so, how many died because of that? Nah, presumably there was some other reason, most likely that they never had a need to use them.

So why would we need to replace them? If 10 years of never having an instance to use them isn’t proof that they will never be needed, how long would that take?

We suspect that it’s possible the procedure when someone’s heart is stopped is to start CRP first and continue that until EMT shows up. If so, why have them in possession of officers whose standard procedure is to never use them?

An email to the county’s Public Information Office seeking information as to why they were never used remains unanswered at press time.

But beyond that is why they need to be replaced- at a cost, according to the attachment, of $2070 per AED or $31,050 total for the 15- especially if they were never used?

If it’s the batteries, that raises questions all by itself. How did they get to be “dead” if they were never used? Were they neglected and never “recharged”? Can the batteries be replaced?

Whatever the situation, there are really only two possibilities here- either the AED's are defective in that with zero use they need to be replaced or the standard manufacturer recommended maintenance was neglected.

The grant is from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program which “allows states and local governments to support a broad range of activities to prevent and control crime and to improve the criminal justice system...

“Purpose Areas include:
Law enforcement programs.
Prosecution and court programs.
Prevention and education programs.
Corrections and community corrections programs.
Drug treatment and enforcement programs.
Planning, evaluation, and technology improvement programs.
Crime victim and witness programs (other than compensation).”

With all the backlog of warrants, subpoenas and the like and the terrible problem the prosecutor has had- and Carvalho describes in the attachment- getting them served, wouldn’t the extra $30,000 help to clear that backlog? Or how about drug treatment- an area severely neglected on Kaua`i?

$30,000 may not seem like much but the list programs certainly includes some NGO-provided services that the county council and administration said it simply could not funds for in this year’s budget.

The council will take up the item at 9 a.m. or thereafter during this Wednesday’s council meeting at the Historic County Building.

1 comment:

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