For more than six years, Jim Baum has talked to anyone and everyone about a device called a defibrillator.
The Lodi resident has them installed at his three homes and two mobile home parks, and he makes sure his neighbors all have easy access and even hosts parties to remind them how to use the devices.
Such a machine is what saved Baum's life in 2003 when his heart stopped, and he soon learned some startling statistics: According to the American Heart Association, nearly 295,000 cardiac arrests occur each year in the U.S., and in just four minutes brain damage sets in.
He's also adamant in his belief that police cars should carry defibrillators.
"If I called 9-1-1 right now, what's the closest thing to me? It's got to be a policeman on patrol," he said, noting that police cars patrol while fire engines and ambulances wait to be dispatched to calls.
After resolving some legal questions about liability, the Lodi Police Department now has four automated external defibrillators. They cost $1,500 each, but Baum donated two of them and the distributor donated the other two, said Capt. Gary Benincasa.
"We'd been looking at them for a while, and we had thought, how do we improve our service to the community and protect our employees?" he said.
About 70 percent of the police employees and volunteers have completed training, and the remainder will be trained by the end of the month, Cpl. Val Chaban said Thursday.
Two of the devices are already mounted in the police building — one on each floor, with the downstairs one placed near the jail as well as several rooms most commonly used by employees.
The other two will be in patrol cars, specifically the cars assigned to corporals. As supervisors, they're more frequently on patrol than sergeants or lieutenants, who are often called to the station for watch commander and administrative duties.
Will the devices help? Only time will tell, but Rochester, Minn. seems to have improved survival rates.
Police officers there have been carrying defibrillators since 1990, and as of Jan. 16 they have saved 119 lives. Their survival rate is 52 percent, while the national average is 5 to 7 percent, according to the city's Web site.
In 2008, Lodi Police Lt. Steve Carillo was at the FBI academy in Virginia when an Iowa law enforcement official collapsed while on a run. A defibrillator shocked his heart back into action, and Carillo and two other officers have since been honored more than once.
Benincasa wonders if things could have turned out differently for Stockton Police Officer Arthur Ford, who chased a residential burglary suspect for more than a mile until he suddenly collapsed.
Other officers caught up gave him CPR, but he'd gone into cardiac arrest and died at the scene that January 1988 day. He was just 29 years old.
Fire trucks and ambulances are fully stocked with defibrillators and plenty of other life-saving equipment, but they aren't called until medical attention is needed. If someone collapses without warning, death can come in mere minutes.
That's why Baum wants more defibrillators in public.
But Lodi first had to resolve the issue of liability.
In March 2009, Lodi Unified School District paid $400,000 to a former Lodi High School student who collapsed four years earlier during a physical education class. Teachers and a school resource officer performed CPR on Adam Kloose and used a defibrillator, which failed to work.
Paramedics arrived and used their own defibrillator to save Kloose. He suffered a non-debilitating brain injury, which his attorney blamed on the school's machine, which apparently had an expired battery.
To avoid that risk, the police department is paying a $1,500 fee to Devices for Life, which will maintain the devices for two years. An officer has also been assigned as the liaison with the company.
If something does malfunction, the devices beep. And it's not an occasional beep, either — they'll keep beeping for a year, Benincasa said.
The defibrillators are very simple to use. Open the lid, and an automated voice says, "Tear open package and remove pads." It repeats the instructions until the step is completed. The machine also instructs whether to administer a shock once the pads are placed on the chest.
And the machine retains the information, such as how many shocks were needed, so it can be downloaded to a computer and given to the patient's doctor.
Eventually, Lodi will likely get more defibrillators, Benincasa said. There is no money to buy them, though, so he didn't know when that might happen.
But if Baum's dream comes true, more could be donated.
In December he hired a man to work on a non-profit venture that will seek money from charitable organizations that typically donate to medical causes.
That man, Mark Smith, got to know Baum when he worked for the company that made the defibrillator used to save Baum's life. They've worked together to get more defibrillators in public, and they hope to get them to police departments that can't afford them.
"In Rochester, policemen love it. They're doing something to help people," Smith said. "Bad things get written about police, but they're out there to serve the community and this is another way to do it."
Baum understands that budget problems mean police agencies can't afford the devices. But he also likes to tell donors that, at $1,500, a defibrillator is cheaper than a funeral.