SOUTH HAVEN — Over the past several years, South Haven Police Chief Natalie Thompson has made it a priority to have each squad car equipped with an automatic external defibrillator and that officers be trained on how to use them and administer CPR.

That priority paid off several weeks ago when two officers used an AED and CPR to save a woman’s life.

Sgt. Adam deBoer and Officer Michael Ledger were recognized with proclamations at Monday’s City Council meeting for their actions.

“When I talk about prioritizing this is a prime example,” Thompson said. “They did outstanding work.”

DeBoer and Ledger were on duty Oct. 29, when they were dispatched to an apartment in South Haven Township to assist a 59-year-old woman in cardiac arrest.

Normally both South Haven Police and South Haven Area Emergency Services respond to emergency calls, but in this particular occasion Central Dispatch was initially unable to reach SHAES due to a phone line being damaged in the region.

“On almost any medical call, the police department is dispatched,” Thompson said. “One hundred percent of the time our officers beat medical personnel by one or two minutes. This time it was 4 minutes.”

Ledger was the first responder on scene and began cardio pulmonary resuscitation efforts. DeBoer arrived shortly afterwards with an AED.

“Officers begin CPR while someone else gets the AED,” Thompson said. “When connected to the patient, the AED detects irregular heart rhythm. When the machine senses it, it will advise the operator to give an electric shock to the patient. Within 1.5 minutes, the AED advised that a shock was necessary. After the shock is delivered, it puts the heart back into more of a regular rhythm.”

However, CPR is often still needed until medical personnel can arrive, so Ledger continued administering CPR for two to three minutes, Thompson said.

“According to medical personnel, the first minutes of their (the police officers’) efforts is what saved this woman’s life,” Thompson said.