JUPITER, Fla. - Eight police officers in the town of Jupiter will soon be receiving new training and new equipment to be able to give medical help where and when it is needed most.
When someone needs emergency medical attention, every second matters.
"Those first few moments are really, really huge," said Jupiter Police Chief Frank Kitzerow. Chief Kitzerow said his officers will soon be able to offer medical assistance even faster than they do now. "We're communicating quicker," he said. "We are communicating more efficiently."
With help from Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, Jupiter's police force is beginning a First Responder program.
Four motorcycle officers, two beach officers and two marine unit officers will receive special training and equipment - including automated external defibrillators (AED) - to provide care in those critical moments before a Fire Rescue or Paramedic team arrives.
"We are kind of filling that little gap between basic and we're not quite EMTs," said Kitzerow. "We're first responders. It takes us a little bit above that basic level."
In recent weeks, a hiker deep in Riverbend Park, west of Florida's Turnpike in Jupiter, found herself in the midst of one of those medical emergencies. Kitzerow said police had a very difficult time getting officers out to that woman in the very remote part of the park.
"This new program would have help to them much, much faster," he said.
Christian Rivera and his family were bicycling on Riverbend Park trails Thursday evening.
"I actually thought about it when we were out there tonight," said Rivera, a Jupiter resident. He said he believes that the police First Responder program could save lives. "If somebody wiped out and got hurt or if a wild animal came out and there was an issue."
The Jupiter Town Council recently approved funding for the First Responder program.
The use of $189,000 from the Federal Forfeitrure Fund was approved by the council.
The eight officers are scheduled to begin training in January with hopes of utilizing their new skills by Spring.