Monday, May 2, 2016

Save a Life

On Tuesday, fourteen people gathered in the Ross Lounge for a demonstration of the AED (automated external defibrillator) that hangs in the narthex.

Andrea Mackey from Philips heart start AED led the demonstration.  Just like the angels in the Bible, her message was "be not afraid!"  The defibrillator is meant to be used by ordinary citizens, people without training or a license.  It has an audio component that walks you through the procedure as well as lots of pictures.  Still, if you came upon a person who has collapsed and isn't breathing, you'd feel better if you had some instruction on the use of the AED.

   Andrea had some hard figures for us.  If a person isn't breathing, organ damage begins within three minutes.  CPR without AED is only 2 - 5% effective.  With AED it is 80-90% effective. She said the instrument is like a fire extinguisher.  It is meant to be ubiquitous -- you'll see them in churches, theatres, arenas, grocery stores -- and easy to use.
    However, if you want more information, here's a handy guide to help calm your nerves while you try to save a life.

  Check -- 

  • Be sure you're safe i.e. no traffic, no threatening dog, etc.
  •  Talk to person or bystanders to try to find out what happened. eg. did the person fall?  hit his head?                           
  • Determine level of consciousness e.g. talk to person.                 Can he hear you?  Pinch him to see if he responds to pain  
  • Tilt the head back to clear his airway.  Watch and listen                      for breath.

Call --

  •  Get someone else to make the 911 call while you start CPR
  •  If possible give dispatcher your location and the condition of    the patient e.g. not breathing
  •  Get the AED kit, preferably someone else does this while           you continue chest compressions
Care --
  •  Open AED kit and follow the audio directions.  If two                 people are working, there should be one on each side of the  patient.

  •  Recruit helpers if possible.  The average person loses                  effectiveness giving CPR after about two minutes.  If you           are alone, do your best.  Angela said doing something is             better than doing nothing.  
  •  The AED unit will tell you whether to shock the patient.  If the heart has already started or if it has stopped completely  the machine will tell you not to apply shock.
  •  keep giving care until the ambulance arrives.

It all looked very simple while Andrea demonstrated.  When we took turns practising, even on the doll, the process got more real. I hope I never have to use the AED, but if I do, I'm glad I had a trial run.  

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