Our Story – The Impact of AED’s

April 07, 2011

James Mellein and Bill Callender
Rec Sports, Oregon State University

The Decision
This story is not about statistics, surveys, research or the latest protocol on lifesaving techniques. This is about how one decision can touch many lives.

A well known patron of many years (we’ll call him Pete), exercised regularly in our facility. Many staff knew him by name and looked forward to seeing him each day. On March 14, 2006 at approximately 2:00pm, Pete suddenly collapsed while exercising on a cardiovascular machine. The ventricular fibrillation during Pete’s cardiac arrest laid him unconscious and unresponsive.

The first person to notice and respond was another patron. The patron checked for consciousness and performed an initial assessment. He found erratic breathing and a fibrillating pulse; he realized Pete was in serious trouble and yelled for someone to get help and call 911.

At 2:01 PM Recreation staff responded by initiating the Emergency Response Plan which includes internal communications within the facility and activation of 911. The facility AED was deployed from its alarmed cabinet and brought on scene with numerous staff and additional emergency response equipment.

Staff identified that Pete had no pulse and no breathing and proceeded to cut off his clothes and applied the pads of the AED. Paramedics arrived on scene and it only took one shock with the AED to restore Pete’s normal heart beat. As the Paramedics ventilated Pete on the way to the hospital, his heart beat continued to function normally and he went into surgery upon arrival at the hospital.

Today Pete is walking up to a mile a day, is scheduled for a second follow up heart surgery this summer, and has expressed his deepest appreciation for the prompt action and use of the AED by Recreation Center Staff.

Pete’s wife, children, and grandchildren have all said that if Pete had his cardiac arrest anywhere else he would not be alive today. These comments were also echoed by the Regional Medical Center, Emergency Response and State Police. Among many acknowledgements to the staff was this note from the State Police Station Commander:

Please extend our appreciation to your staff for their excellent work yesterday. The quick and efficient response to a medical emergency in the cardio room yesterday is to be commended. The level of quality and caring work by the staff at the Dixon Recreation Center is something that we have come to expect. It does not go unappreciated.

Pete visited the recreation center a few days ago and delivered a hand written thank-you-card to our staff. He said in it “To say thank you seems inadequate… but prompt action by the staff saved my life”.

The Commitment
The department AED program was developed years ago with the assistance of various departments on campus. Since then, our commitment to patron safety has spread to various units within the university and has resulted in the department being identified as a key player in policy development, and as the recognized training agency for safety training programs on campus. Over 250 recreational sports staff are trained to respond to various emergencies throughout department programs and activities. Now that we have committed to this level of care and seen the impact first hand, we know the answer to the question, “Are you ready?”

How about you — are you ready?

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