Magazine article Occupational Hazards

AEDs Move into Industry

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

AEDs Move into Industry

Article excerpt

New technology puts lifesaving devices into the hands of employees.

The last thing Jim Young remembers about Jan. 22, 1998 was that he had finished his daily workout at the Michelin company fitness center and was standing before a soda machine thinking about calling his wife.

Three days later, he woke in a hospital. He was told he had suffered a severe heart attack and was saved by a coworker who used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock his heart back to a regular beat. Michelin had brought the AEDs into the plant two weeks earlier and trained its security officers to use the equipment.

"If it hadn't been for Michelin security, I'd be dead," said Young, 60, a retired powerhouse operator in Greenville, S.C. "I am so glad they had that AED, and I personally think every company should have one in every workplace. It saves lives."

Mark Garrett was the security officer on duty the day Young had his heart attack. He said the machine worked beautifully and directed him, step-by-step.

"When I pulled into the wellness center, someone was at the door shouting to hurry; a man was down," he said. "I ran inside and saw Mr. Young on the floor...I did the basic CPR stuff -- 'look, listen and feel.' I didn't feel a pulse and he was breathing about four times a minute. I opened his shirt, plugged in the AED and it advised to shock. I made sure everyone was clear, pushed the button and administered a shock. His pulse went to 140, but his respiration wasn't what it should be, so I assisted ventilation with an airbag until the ambulance arrived.

"When he left here, he was still unresponsive, but his heart was beating and he was stabilized," Garrett said. "Mr. Young was the first person I ever applied the AED to. It was a textbook case -- there were no problems and it all worked out the way it was supposed to."

Time Factor

Young was lucky. Garrett was at his side two minutes after he fell to the floor. Time is critical when dealing with sudden cardiac arrest, where the electrical function of the heart is disrupted and it stops pumping blood. While some heart attacks may be handled successfully with a response time of hours, every minute that goes by without treatment of sudden cardiac arrest decreases the chance of survival by about 10 percent. After 12 minutes, chances of survival drops to below 10 percent, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

"In places like New York, where ambulance response time averages 12 minutes, a person would be in deep, deep trouble," said Berna Creel, an AHA spokesperson. "In a lot of situations, it is not possible to truck an ambulance into a space within a lifesaving time frame, and that's where these AEDs are invaluable."

According to AHA, approximately 476,000 people die in the United States annually because of coronary artery disease, which causes heart attacks and angina. Heart attacks, or myocardial infarction, are caused by a temporary blockage in the flow of blood to the brain. Sudden cardiac arrest, in which the heart ceases its normal rhythm, accounts for approximately 250,000 deaths each year. "While a heart attack may cause cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death, the terms aren't synonymous," AHA explains. AHA says 100,000 lives could be saved annually if police and firefighters were equipped with AEDs.

Recently, the three leading AED manufacturers -- Medtronic Physio-Control, Heartstream and SurVivaLink -- have introduced defibrillators that don't take a medical degree to operate. Basically, all the products work the same: electrodes are applied to the victim's chest area, the AED reads the heart rhythm and advises whether to shock or not. If shock is advised, the machine adjusts to the proper voltage and, once a button is pushed, administers the shock. Each of the machines is analyzed internally so they are virtually maintenance free.

While training requirements vary from state to state, AED manufacturers recommend using a program approved by one of the nationally recognized organizations, such as the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross or the National Safety Council. …

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