"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Automated external defibrillators save lives while you use them

February 20, 2024 – When Billy Frolick, 63, collapsed at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, fate was on his side. Coincidentally, Lauren Westafer, DO, an emergency physician, was catching a connecting flight at a close-by gate.

It was Friday, May 13, 2022. Westafer, who works at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA, was coming out of the restroom when she heard a sound like someone snoring nearby and saw a flight attendant by her Gate scurry away. She followed the noise and got here across a person lying on the bottom agonal respiratory – when someone gasps for air, normally in consequence of a cardiac arrest or stroke. In his excitement, some bystanders checked his pulse while the flight attendant ran back with an oxygen mask.

Westafer knew she had to start out CPR, and quickly. She turned to the flight attendant and asked for the closest AED – on automated external defibrillator made for situations like this.

The flight attendant said the airport didn't have one.

“I was pretty rude and said, 'It's an airport.' There is an AED. I don't know where the next one is. “Ask someone, check the walls, walk the hallways until you find one,” Westafer said.

All airports within the US – and other public places where large groups typically gather – are required by law Having AEDs. They are often red and stored in a white metal box attached to the wall. Westafer said the flight attendant returned very quickly with an AED in hand.

Automated external defibrillators are different of the defibrillators used in hospitals; Westafer calls them “essentially foolproof.” There are clear instructions that show you step by step where to attach the pads and what to do next.

In the event of a cardiac arrest, there are such four different ones Types of ECG (electrocardiography) rhythms that may occur. Only two of these are shockable, and part of the AED's job is to determine whether the patient should be shocked.

The stars aligned again for Frolick when the AED read “Shock Recommended.” That's what you want to see in this situation, Westafer said. “Then you have the best chance of getting someone back.”

CPR was also an extremely important part of Frolick's resuscitation. Seven of his ribs were broken – which is not the case unusual while CPR – someone who cut his liver open. Technically Frolick was dead for those ten minutes, but every 30 to 45 seconds during CPR he began moving his hands or bending his knees.

Ultimately, however, getting your hands on an AED is often a matter of life and death.

“My goal was to get a shock as quickly as possible because the longer your heart is in this irregular rhythm and you can't shock it, the more it will go into a rhythm that you can't shock. Then your options are extremely limited,” said Westafer. “That’s why access is so important.”

When doctors arrived and hooked him up to a heart monitor, they could see that Frolick's heart was now in a normal rhythm. After they loaded him onto a stretcher, he was even able to tell rescue workers and Westafer his name.

As an emergency doctor, Westafer doesn't often see patients come back to life. Research has shown that the Survival rate Out-of-hospital cardiac arrests account for under about 10%, costing roughly one life 350,000 people per 12 months within the USA

Before the ordeal, Frolick said he had been hospitalized 3 times for chest tightness. His doctors inserted a stent, gave him a prescription for nitroglycerin and sent him on his way.

“I was shooting nitroglycerin like they were Tic Tacs,” Frolick said. “At the Charlotte airport between flights, I felt the crowding, took the nitro, and it was the last thing I remembered until I was staring up at three doctors from a hospital bed.”

Cardiologist Paul Chan, MD, has been studying trends in AED use and out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates for years.

“In states that have laws Because AEDs are required, particularly in gyms, we see a higher rate of bystanders even using the AED on those in cardiac arrest,” Chan said. “But we would like to see that percentage higher. Ideally, we would expect there would be mandatory staff training in these states to know where the nearest AED is.”

Both Chan and Westafer said that if someone collapses as a consequence of cardiac arrest, some bystanders may freeze. Chaos could ensue. However, so long as an individual provides the patient with an AED, there’s the next likelihood that somebody will have the opportunity to intervene and administer the shock when asked.

“He was lucky he died in an airport,” Westafer said of Frolick, because everyone 50 states require AEDs in airports. Even if the staff isn't sufficiently trained to know where they’re or when to make use of them, as in Frolick's case, someone will probably have the opportunity to seek out them fairly quickly.

After every week within the hospital, Frolick – indeed one in every of the luckiest unluckiest people ever – had recovered from his cardiac arrest. And almost two years later, he and Westafer remain friends.

However, the usage of AEDs in public settings stays low (2% to five%), in accordance with one CDC studyThis is primarily as a consequence of a lack of information, bystander reluctance to make use of AEDs, and limited access to AEDs on the whole.

You don't must be an emergency doctor to avoid wasting a life, you only have to know what to search for.