Today, We Were In the 5%. Do You Have An AED?

“Units responding be advised, patient now reported to be in cardiac arrest, CPR instructions being given. No AED on site.”

On Saturday, those words from our dispatcher, as usual, seemed to make my foot move a little heavier on the gas pedal. As we arrived on scene, we were able to quickly confirm the dispatch, and take over CPR which was being performed by an older gentleman. While his efforts were admirable, and all he could give, the effect was not what it could have been.

By the time our AED was connected to the patient, there was not a shockable rhythm. More CPR. Another no-shock. More CPR. Another no-shock. More CPR. Another no-shock. Once some Epinephrine was on board through the IV, our 5th attempt to get a shockable rhythm was successful, and we shocked. We got a somewhat “organized” heart rhythm. A minute or so later, our patient seemed to be breathing on his own, with a relatively decent Blood Pressure. Time to go.

Lights and sirens to the ER. Traffic a little less than cooperative (please pull over when you see an ambulance coming). Patient still unconscious, and Blood Pressure falling a bit, but not bad. Patient turned over to the ER team, and analysis and stabilization ensues.

5% of Cardiac Arrest patients survive. The number jumps to nearly 50% if CPR is started immediately and there is an AED connected within 5 minutes of the onset of Cardiac Arrest. Our arrival time was 7 minutes after the 911 call began, and it was another 9 before we had a shockable rhythm. With all that said, our patient is still in that “lucky” 5%, two days later. His odds would have been so much better if there had been an AED on site. He likely had a shockable rhythm in those 7 minutes it took our first crew to get there. His odds would have been 50/50 instead of twenty to one.

Our call response was to a staffed building, open to the public, in which many people had access. Our patient had all the classic signs. He walked in, said he didn’t feel well and his chest hurt, and sat down and asked for drink of water. Then, witnesses say he stood up, staggered, and was eased down to the ground as he went into Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

If only this community had placed a $1500 AED in their building, a one time expense, his odds would have been better.

Our patient may still make a full recovery. I’m still worried about him, but it’s out of my hands, now. I’m worried about the next guy.

Do you live or work in a community or building with a lot of people? Even though the economy has had better days, is there $1500 or so that can be found, collected, allocated or donated as a one time expense to increase the next person’s odds? Start a movement to place an AED where you work. Don’t take “no” for an answer. Don’t take “there’s too much liability” for an answer. Think about what you would want if you go into Sudden Cardiac Arrest. What odds do you want for yourself, or for your family. Remember, it doesn’t just happen to “old” people.

What, or who, are YOU worried about?