Knowing where this device is can save a life

AED_blog_largeThink about all of the public places you might visit in a typical month – grocery stores, restaurants, churches, entertainment venues, even your workplace.
Now answer this: Do you know where to find a defibrillator at those places? Most people don’t, but they should. I recently witnessed this problem first-hand.

While attending a wedding reception, I found myself, along with other wedding guests, responding to a medical emergency. The father of the bride had collapsed in cardiac arrest.

A few of us performed CPR, while others called 911 and ran in search of an automated external defibrillator, or AED. Their search took several agonizing minutes because many venue workers didn’t know if there was an AED or where it was located.

Fortunately, the device was found and we were able to use it to defibrillate the man’s heart and regain a pulse, just as paramedics arrived to take over.

That’s when it really hit home for me – no one ever knows when they could be called on to help save a life.

It simply takes someone in the room knowing what to do, and they don't need any medical background.

The ability to stay calm and call 911 will make a difference. Also, make an effort to notice AEDs when you’re out and about. The devices are easy to use and most will guide you through the steps. At your workplace, find out if you have an AED and where it is.

A recent survey from the American Heart Association found about half of all U.S. employees couldn’t find an AED at work. Even worse – two out of three workers in the hospitality and service industry (hotels, restaurants and party venues) didn’t know where it was.

If your workplace doesn’t have an AED, consider asking them to get one. Most devices cost around $1,000.

When cardiac arrest happens outside the hospital, the chance for survival increases with fast bystander response. Knowing how to efficiently perform CPR and knowing both where to find and how to use an AED can mean the difference between life and death.

As a physician, I know medicine is a team sport. It takes a lot of people handling a lot of moving parts. This one went in our favor, and the man is doing well today. Anyone can do their part, with a little more knowledge and awareness.

If you’d like to learn more about AEDs or learn CPR, check with your employer or the American Heart Association for training that’s available in your area.


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