A well-equipped and trained Fishers Police Department saves lives

By Ann Craig-Cinnamon 

On Feb. 22nd, Fishers Police Sgt. Troy Fettinger decided to stop by Fishers Junior High School to do a security check and, while there, catch a few minutes of his son’s basketball game.

He certainly had no way of knowing that his decision would result in the saving of another child’s life that day.

It was only a few minutes into the game when a player on the opposing team collapsed to the floor. That’s when Fettinger sprang into action along with his father, who is a retired EMT, and a doctor who was also in attendance at the game. Joel Tsetse, 12,  had stopped breathing and did not have a pulse. Fettinger radioed for help and while the others performed CPR on Joel, he ran to his police car for a device known as an AED, or automated external defibrillator. The AED indicated that giving the boy a shock was necessary to get his heart rhythm back, and Fettinger administered it. Fortunately, it worked. Emergency medical personnel arrived quickly and Joel was taken to the hospital where he spent several days recovering and being diagnosed to determine what caused his heart to stop to begin with.

Fettinger, who has five children of his own, takes his actions that day in stride.

“When something like that happens you just go into what you are supposed to do in your job and do what you’ve been trained to do. And fortunately we had just been recertified two weeks prior to this incident in CPR and AED use, so it was all very fresh in the mind. Training and experience just takes over and you do what needed to be done, and thankfully we had a great outcome this time,” he says.

The sergeant, who has been a police officer for 21 years and has been on the Fishers police force since 1996, is being called a hero. That’s not how he sees it, though.

“I feel I was doing what I was trained to do and doing what I was supposed to be doing, and I’m glad I was able to do it”.

The reason he was able to do it is because the FPD puts a premium on acquiring life-saving equipment such as AEDs and training personnel to use them, according to Sgt. Mike Janes, an 11 year member of the department and patrol supervisor, a paramedic and former firefighter who is responsible for training police personnel in CPR and AED use. He says FPD began seeking funding to buy AEDs back in the early 2000s with the goal of having one in every patrol car. As of today, that goal has been met and the department has as many as 90 of the units, which cost approximately $1,200 each. Janes says that the use of an AED within five to seven minutes of a person going into cardiac arrest can make the difference between life or death.

Police cars are already out driving around and have the chance to be quick on the scene. So, having trained police with those units in their cars just makes sense, many say.

It’s the kind of thinking that makes the Fishers Police Dept. so great, according to Janes. He cites a large number of specialty teams in the department such as the SWAT Team, Dive Team, Boat Patrol, Crash Team and K-9 Units.

“One of the neatest things about Fishers is that we’ve been blessed that we’ve got a lot of people who have worked at other agencies who have brought different experiences here, plus we provide a lot of training,” he says and adds, ”in my opinion we’ve got some of the best-trained and most-knowledgeable officers in the nation because of the different and high levels of training that we’ve been able to provide our people.”

Fishers Town Manager Scott Fadness agrees and says, “We are probably leading the nation in our approach to emergency medical care.” He says that the national average for the time between a 911 call and having the patient “on the table” being cared for is 90 minutes. In Fishers, that time is only 60 minutes. Fadness adds, “I wouldn’t want to have heart problems anywhere else.” The pride they feel for their department is evident, with both Fettinger and Janes noting that there has not been a murder in Fishers since 1995, and last year police made apprehensions in 14 crimes in progress.

“I think there’s high expectations by the people who live here. You expect to live in a safe community when you’re in this area. And fortunately, we’re able to provide that,” says Janes. He points to stable leadership, with a police chief who has been with the department for more than 35 years, and hiring and retaining good people.

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