NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Firefighters in central Arkansas have a new way to save more lives. The North Little Rock Fire Department just became one of the first departments in the nation to upgrade all of their firetrucks with 20 new Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) and three new advanced life support cardiac monitors.

It's all thanks to a grant from the Department of Homeland Security and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant. Captain Billy Jones said he’s proud of the department taking giant leaps forward.

“We want to be ahead of the game,” Jones said. “We don't want to follow anyone, we want them to follow us.”

The company who NLRFD purchased the AEDs from, just updated the technologies for themselves in October, so North Little Rock is one of the first departments in the nation to be able to put this one particular AED in service.

“This new update will help us save more lives sooner,” said Jones.

Firefighters are often the first to arrive on the scene of emergencies and having the best technology at hand can make the difference between life and death.

“We are on scene within three to five minutes from the time you call 911 because we are in the neighborhood we are your neighbor,” Jones said. “Now, when there’s a cardiac issue or arrest we are going to get this new technology hooked up quicker and save lives.”

The AEDs are kept in the same place for each of the fire trucks; it’s placed on the right side for consistent easy access. This allows the firefighters to have more efficiency and accessibility which makes a difference when lives are at stake.

Captain Wesley Stephens said he and other firefighters feel more confident in their life-saving ability because of this upgrade.

“With our old AEDs, we would do our job and hope that they worked; but these ones tell us what’s going on and how efficient our CPR is,” he said. “We are now better equipped to keep up with the newest advances in modern medicine.”

Stephens said the new AEDs help firefighters even after they return to the station. 

“When we get back, the technology tells us how we did so we can get better on the next call,” he said. “This is really going to make everyone more confident doing their job because anytime you can save someone's life it makes for a better day.”

Another exciting feature in terms of the new cardiac monitoring technology is Bluetooth and wireless internet capabilities. The paramedics in the department can immediately send back data to the ER or cath lab with reports on what happened at the emergency site.