Last month, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department received a $599,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to fund the purchase of up to 25 defibrillators for rescue ambulances and other emergency vehicles.

Local congresswoman Lois Capps announced the award, which was funded by a federal endowment from the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. Founded in 2001, the AFG program aims to provide much-needed resources — including emergency equipment, gear and vehicles — to county and city fire departments nationwide. Twelve of the new defibrillators being installed are high-tech Automatic External Defibrillators, which differ from traditional defibrillators in that they are portable and can automatically diagnose life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias, as well as correct the arrhythmias with electrical shocks.

Santa Barbara County Fire Chief Michael Dyer said the funding will go toward purchasing several defibrillators, which will be installed on many front-line fire trucks and ambulances.

“This will ensure this critical diagnostic device arrives to all emergencies in the shortest amount of time, resulting in more lives saved,” Dyer said.

Third-year art history major Taylor Liberty, who had his own life saved by the use of a defibrillator, said added installations provide a greater sense of security to Santa Barbara locals like himself.

“As someone who previously had his life saved thanks to the use of defibrillators by EMTs, knowing that emergency response vehicles will now be equipped with high-tech defibrillators really reassures me,” Liberty said.

Other programs funded by the Department of Homeland Security include the grant for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response and the grant for Fire Prevention & Safety. There is currently no set date for installment of the defibrillators.