Small machines shock hearts, save lives

AED photoCoach David Edgin, coaching high school sports for 18 years, was watching the normal Boles High School Friday night football game. Stadium lights, crowds of people and raucous cheering of fans on both sides was not unusual for him.

But an unusual occurrence happened one not so glorious Friday night. A man, in his early 40s, went into cardiac arrest. Fans nearby panicked as EMTs got the AED and attempted to shock the fan’s heart back to rhythm before carrying him off to the ambulance in the nearby parking lot.

“I still remember it after five years,” said Coach David Edgin, currently assistant girls’ basketball coach at Brownwood High School.

“I can use an AED, since all coaches have to know how to use one, because you just never know. In small schools, like Boles, where you don’t have a trainer it is especially important. They are pretty simple to use. It has a picture and tells you what to do, so anyone can use it in an emergency such as that game.”

“According to the American Red Cross, Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are machines that analyze heart rhythm and, if necessary, administers a shock to the patient which helps to bring the heart back to the effective rhythm,” said Sonya Mikeska, MC head athletic trainer and teacher of First Aid, CPR and AED training.

“This year, 350,000 people will suffer from cardiac arrest and for every minute use of an AED is delayed, the chance of survival decreases by 10 percent, according to the American Red Cross. By knowing how to use an AED, the chance of surviving cardiac arrest is far better than not using it. Even if someone never uses an AED in their life, it is still a handy thing to know,” Mikeska said.

“In my experience, the more people are trained to use AEDs, the greater chance there is of saving someone in emergency,” Leland Hart, MC EMS faculty said. “While we have not had to use an AED on campus recently, it is still a vitally important thing to know.” Sadly, AEDs will not always save someone who is in cardiac arrest.

“I remember an elderly lady in a wheelchair was in cardiac arrest quite a while ago,” Hart said. “Sadly the AED was not successful. You have to understand that not all unstable heartbeats are ‘shockable’, and the AED can only work on ones that are ‘shockable.’”

“The American Heart Association says it is better to use an AED than not at all. It will drastically increase the chance of reviving a patient,” Mikeska said. “Learning how to use an AED can be the difference between life and death. Also, when using an AED, you have to remove anything, including shirts and bras, from the chest to attach the pads that deliver the shock. If the victim has too much hair, you must attach the child pads and rip it off or simply shave the hair, but you must do it quickly. They are dead. They can throw a fit over their clothes or hair if they come back. It’s better to be alive and angry than dead.”

“One particular case I remember, a gentleman was in cardiac arrest, so we hooked him up to the AED. He was actually revived and went to hospital, coming back perfectly fine, Hart said. “Everyone is open to learn the use of AEDs when we have training sessions on campus so they can use them during an emergency in case Emergency Medical Services are not already on site,” said Richard McKee, chief of campus police.

“All buildings where sporting events are held or where young children are around normally have at least one AED, no matter where you are,” Edgin said.

“Currently we have 42 new AEDs on campus and have only had them for the past year. They haven’t been used yet, but they are there,” McKee said. AEDs are in many places, and most teachers, coaches, trainers, and student trainers, are trained in their use, but these people cannot be everywhere at all times.

By learning how to use an AED, you can lessen the number of people who die from cardiac arrest this year. Be a potential lifesaver and learn how to use an AED.

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