by Kirby Lindsay Laney, posted 5 December 2016
The Seattle-King County Public Health ‘Shockingly Simple: Restart A Heart’ campaign registration of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) at any venue, business or property that one. Researching this column about the life-saving machines, I found a shocking lack of them in our community – given their ease of use.
“It definitely provides a level of safety and assurance,” explained Sean Erhardt, who has an AED in both of his health clubs – Anytime Fitness clubs in Fremont and on Queen Anne. He admitted that one reason he keeps the machines around is because, “it’s required.” Still, he emphasized their ease of use. “The thing talks to you,” he said of the AEDs at his gyms, “even if you don’t know,” if the person needs defibrillation, “you put the patches on, and if they are having a heart attack it will tell you.”
According to the Public Health Shockingly Simple website, sudden cardiac arrest is the third greatest killer of Americans nationally, with more than 300,000 cases per year. Untreated, survival of sudden cardiac arrest is about 10%. With the use of an AED, the chance of survival increases more than 30%. According to the American Red Cross, the average response time for first responders, once 911 is called, is 8 – 12 minutes yet for each minute defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival is reduced approximately 10%.
The Extra Step
Linda Culley, Community Programs Manager at Seattle-King County Public Health, wants to see more businesses and organizations register their AEDs. Churches, event venues, athletic clubs and larger businesses where there are people around – anyone can experience sudden cardiac arrest – should consider investing in, and registering, these relatively inexpensive machines.
Registration makes it easier for 911 Emergency Call Center Operators to alert first responders about an AED on the premises, or even the caller. “We provide premise information to the 911 Emergency Center,” Culley explained. It means that when someone calls, to report cardiac arrest, the dispatcher can inform them of the AED on the premises – and walk them through the use of it, while waiting for emergency responders to arrive.
Culley acknowledged that for businesses, having an AED, and one of the white signs that hangs above it, “shows the business cares, and is willing to go the extra step,” to look out for its customers and community.
‘In A Normal Rhythm’
“Doing CPR alone rarely resuscitates people,” Culley acknowledged. Unlike on television, CPR isn’t a cure-all. It may keep a person alive until responders arrive, if done correctly. Yet, “if the person is in sudden cardiac arrest,” Culley explained, “they need CPR and they need an electric shock to get the heart beating again in a normal rhythm.”
“CPR is moving the blood around and keeping the brain alive,” Culley said, “it’s buying time.” The best part of using an AED, as Erhardt noted and Culley also explained, “if you put an AED on a person who has a regular [heart] rhythm, it won’t work.” AEDs available now know if the heart needs to be defibrillated, and won’t shock someone who doesn’t need it.
“You are not going to make them any worse,” Culley reassured about using an AED. Erhardt acknowledged that since he’s been at Anytime, nearly 10 years, he hasn’t used the AED for an emergency, and he hopes he will never have to. Culley also acknowledged, “it could happen that a business could buy one and never use it.”
“Anyone who thinks it is intimidating,” Erhardt suggested, “open one, look at it. It’s idiot-proof.” He’d like his clients, or anyone, to show curiosity about the Automatic External Defibrillators, today, before they might be needed. “Hesitation or non-use could lose a life,” Erhardt admitted. “My fear is that people might be intimidated,” and not use the AED he’s provided, if an emergency occurs.
Anytime Fitness is, “a 24 hour/7 day facility. We don’t always have staff on-site,” Erhardt explained. He makes sure his staff is aware of the locations of the machines, and trained in using it, but he has the AED (along with safety buttons hooked up to 911 dispatchers,) for clients who use the gym during off-hours, as well.
Seattle-King County Public Health has lots of information on-line about how to use the AED, and Erhardt recommended watching the videos about how easy they are to use. First though, Public Health has created a YouTube video to encourage registering an AED (see it by clicking here.)
Of course, the only way to use an AED, in an emergency, is to have one on the premises when it is needed, and know it is there. When seconds can mean life or death, an AED can increase survival rate by 70 – 80 percent.
If your business already has an AED on the premises, register it now with Seattle-King County Public Health. First responders need to know this tool will be available when they arrive, and dispatchers can help witnesses transform into life-savers – but only when dispatchers know the AED is available!
According to Public Health, more than 3,000 AED’s are registered in King County. This has contributed substantially to our county having one of the highest witnessed out-of-hospital defibrillation sudden cardiac arrest survival rates in the world. Let’s see if Fremont can get those numbers higher, and save more lives!
For far more information, visit the Seattle-King County Public Health website.
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©2016 Kirby Laney. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.