July 8, 2013

Jump-start efforts to get more AEDs

The Daily Citizen

— If you could save someone’s life, in most circumstances you’d do it.

And if something were handy to ensure one’s life would be saved, you would use it for sure (Or so we hope.)

That situation was described in this paper a week ago Sunday about some quick thinking by members of Liberty Baptist Church who, during a service, saved the life of George “Pudgy” Albertson, who had gone into complete cardiac arrest — a condition most people don’t survive.

But thanks to Pati Kelley, an emergency room nurse, Albertson’s life was saved since the church had the foresight to have an AED — automated external defibrillator — on the premises.

Small enough to be portable and used by nearly anyone, AEDs are used to jump-start a person’s heart, and having one nearby might be the difference between life and death when time is precious. They are designed for use by laypeople with little or no training to deliver a shock that can save a victim’s life and thus provide first aid while professional first responders are en route.

The machine will automatically scan the victim and tell the person operating it whether the victim will benefit from being shocked.

The cold statistics from the American Heart Association: Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 300,000 people yearly.

For every minute elapsed after someone suffers a heart attack, 10 percentage points are lost from that person’s life expectancy, meaning if a person hasn’t gotten help for six minutes, he or she has only a 40 percent chance of survival.

The biggest drawback to AEDs: They’re expensive. A random Internet search reveals they sell for more than $1,000 apiece.

But the facts point to having more AEDs in more places, especially locales that attract a lot of people, whether they be golf clubs or churches.

Local governments are already on board. Back in the fall of 2006, the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners voted to buy 22 automatic defibrillators, one for each county building that is open to the public.

Private businesses that deal with the public should look into having at least one on the premises. After all, looking after your customers’ safety is a top priority.

Endorsing the increase in more AED installations is a no-brainer. And we all should make note of their locations when out in public. And if you question their costs vs. their usefulness, just ask Pudgy Albertson if he thinks they’re worth it.