Today we taught CPR and First Aid for the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety at their new Justice Center. The experience was as educational for me as it hopefully was for them. We shared conversation and stories about how they have used their first aid and CPR skills in the past. The need for AEDs was a key topic of discussion. On any given shift there are 7 officers on duty serving the reservation which is about the size of Connecticut – 11,000 square miles. There are also six to seven ambulances serving the same area. Police officers are frequently the first responders to medical emergencies and other assistance could be up to thirty minutes away. The officers shared stories of delivering babies, responding to fires and responding to cardiac emergencies. They do not have AED’s for their patrol cars and they feel ill-equipped to respond to cardiac or other emergencies that may cause a person’s heart to stop.
Today’s session showed the need for the training and the difficulties that public safety personnel experience. It also made me eager to help with getting AED’s for each of the patrol cars. The officers need all the tools they can get to serve the people of this vast reservation.
This was also the day prior to national and tribal elections. The tribal radio station did several interviews with candidates. It was interesting, and sad to hear that the Bureau of Indian Affairs calculated that the Pine Ridge Reservation needed 100 officers while the reservation had a budget for 50 officers and a staff of just over 30 officers to serve over 65,000 people.