Life-Saving Device Not Where You Expect
By Katie LaGrone, Channel 5 News, wptv.com
17 year old Claire Dunlap is lucky to be alive.
"I don't remember the trip to West Boca High School. I don't remember playing in the game," she said.
Nearly two years ago, Claire was comotosed after collapsing on a high school softball field.
Her mother, Patti watched her daughter fall from the bleachers.
"I couldn't believe it, I thought it was some sort of seizure. I just thought it had to be something else, I never envisioned it could be sudden cardiac arrest," she said.
Claire's mother attributes her daughters survival to an automated external defibrillator or A-E-D, it's a life saving device the size of a lap top.
Students Learn Lifesaving Techniques in Weston
The leading cause of death in America for men and women is heart disease, and within that category is a growing major health problem that's received much less publicity than heart attacks; it's called sudden cardiac arrest.
Sudden cardiac death results from an abrupt loss of heart function, and it kills more than three hundred thousand people.
Knowledge can change those statistics. A device called an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) is a machine which shocks a stopped heart back to life.
In 2004, the City of Weston made its mark in medical history. It passed the first ordinance in the country having every public building supplied with an AED. Two hundred of these units can be found throughout the city.
On Thursday, the Rotary Club of Weston kicked off an educational campaign called, "The Golden Minute." Teaming up with the Cleveland Clinic and the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association, they are educating the public with a four-month series of events.
Beginning with the Cypress Bay High School in Weston, students watched video clips with stories of people who were saved with the machine.
"It's very simple to use," a firefighter said.
Sudden cardiac arrest isn't like a heart attack. With a heart attack, you have time to get to the emergency room via ambulance.
Cleveland Clinic Dr. Kenneth Fromkin explained, "A heart attack is when an artery becomes blocked and muscle is dying, but SCA is when the rhythm of the heart suddenly changes."
Dr. Fromkin adds that time is the brain's enemy. The brain dies in just four to six minutes. For every minute a person isn't breathing or pumping blood, the brain function goes down 10 percent. If something isn't done fast, it's too late.
The AED machines are very smart. Once activated, a voice tells the user, "Call for help, remove pads from package in back of unit, apply pads to patients bare chest as shown." The machine then instructs you to either shock or perform CPR.
Dr. Deepa Sangani was about to fly out of the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport when she saved a man's life using an AED. She said, "The device told us the gentleman needed to be shocked."
Dr. Sangani went on to say, she saw "a lot of the units inside the airport."
High School senior Diana Nunez had no idea how to operate an AED. "I saw it has all the instructions, and it has the drawings and tells you exactly what to do." That's all changed.