Published On: Fri, Apr 22nd, 2016

Getting an AED Machine is Worth the Investment

A friend of mine while attending the movies with his wife and son recently became ill.

His son, who was sitting in the seat in front of him, looked back and noticed something unusual about his dad. He got his mom’s attention and when she saw her husband slumped back motionless, she knew then all was not well.

They sounded the alarm and luckily, there was a nurse in the movies who jumped into action.
She gave her keys to someone and told them to get an AED machine, or automatic external defibrillator, from her car in the parking lot. Thanks to that device, which cost between $1,500 and $2,000, Thomas is here with us today. Not to mention, my mother is still alive thanks largely to an AED machine.

Over the last three weeks I have become an even stronger crusader of learning basic CPR and having a portable AED machine within easy access.

Each year, about 350,000 people have cardiac arrest outside of a medical facility such as a hospital, and less than 8 percent of people who go into cardiac arrest survive, according to the American Heart Association. Majority of the victims die because bystanders don’t know how to start CPR or are afraid they will do something wrong.

So when I learned recently that the Palm Beach County School district is teaching students in CPR, my heart was joyed.

About 1,200 physical education and health students at Boca Raton Community Middle School recently completed the 50-minute training taught over three days.

Back in February, the American Heart Association taught teachers from around the county about hands-only CPR. Since then, 4,000 students in nine middle and high schools have learned how to administer the aid, school officials said.

The American Heart Association is lobbying state legislature to pass a bill after three failed attempts.

Already 20 states — including Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee — have passed the “CPR in Schools” bill, which requires including “hands-only” CPR training in public schools.

Hands-only CPR is a much simpler approach than the old-style CPR that many of us are used. A friend of mine gave me a demonstration earlier this week and it only uses chest compressions and does not require mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, making it an easier technique that more people are willing to perform. Local physicians tell me that the hands-only system is generally as effective as old-style CPR.

Bystander CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac-arrest victim’s chance of survival. Unfortunately, less than a third of cardiac arrest victims currently receive CPR from a bystander.

It is perfectly fine to have one of these devices in your residential complex considering that approximately 70 percent of CPR happens in the home and is typically performed on a family member. However, before you implement a defibrillation program, make sure you speak to a lawyer.

I have directed my staff that once the students and staff at one of our local high schools are trained we will donate a defibrillator to them.

Teaching students CPR could save thousands of lives by filling our community with lifesavers trained to give cardiac-arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive until medical help arrives.

It’s a mere 50-minute investment of time – one class session – to prepare students to save a life because one life lost to sudden cardiac arrest is too many. In fact, teaching everyone to use the device and having one nearby is such a no-brainer.

C. Ron Allen can be reached at crallen@DelrayBeachTribune.com or 561-665-0151.

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