Defibrillator makes the difference


Jan Jarvis | | Thursday, July 5, 2007

Jul. 4--Kerry Osborne can't remember the last basketball game he played at First Baptist Church Grapevine.

"All I remember is going into the game and slapping someone's hand," he said. "They say I got a ball scored, but I don't remember any of that."

Travis Coates can't forget the game, which they played in May.

"I heard a loud thud and thought Kerry had just tripped and hit his head," Coates said. "He wasn't breathing and he didn't have a pulse."

Coates, an emergency room physician at Arlington Memorial Hospital, used the automated external defibrillator the church had installed a month earlier to restore the rhythm of Osborne's heart. The device delivers an electric shock to the heart.

Coates treats heart attack patients regularly in the ER, but treating a friend was different, he said.

Fortunately, he said, the AED instructions were easy to follow.

"Having never used one before on a live person, it was pretty brainless," Coates said. "The hardest part is all the chaos that goes along with it."

Most machines have voice prompts. But health officials urge people to be trained in how to use the devices.

Improving the odds

More than 350,000 people die each year from sudden cardiac arrest in the United States, according to the American Red Cross. In Texas, sudden cardiac arrest kills more than 26,000 a year.

When a person has cardiac arrest, his or her chance of survival is reduced by 10 percent with every minute that passes without defibrillation. Having an AED nearby can make the difference, said Douglas Dunsavage, public advocacy director of the North Texas American Heart Association.

"We have fire extinguishers in every public place and we know they save lives," Dunsavage said. "We are at point in the 21st century where we should have devices like this available."

A new state law requires an AED in all 8,000 public schools in Texas beginning in September. There are AEDs in about 3,500 schools now. MedStar has distributed 112 AEDs in this area, mostly to schools, said Michael Potts, a company paramedic.

The AEDs go hand in hand with CPR, and people need to know how to do both, Potts said. AEDs also need routine maintenance.

Occasionally companies have hung AEDs on the wall and found the batteries dead six years later when employees tried to use them, Potts said.


When Osborne collapsed, the AED at hand was new and worked properly. He was rushed to a Dallas hospital, where he learned that two of his arteries were 90 percent blocked and that he needed triple bypass surgery.

The diagnosis came as a shock to Osborne, who is 47 and lives in Colleyville. He had been active all his life and has no close relatives with heart disease. His father played for the Cleveland Browns in the late 1950s, and Osborne played sports at Texas A&M University.

Treating someone he has known for years was equally shocking to Coates, who had played on the basketball team with Osborne for five years. He feared that too much time had passed before he used the AED.

Yet a month after his surgery, Osborne is back at work and plans to play basketball again.

He's grateful that his friend was there when he collapsed.

"I couldn't ask for anything better," he said.

The ABCs of AEDs

An Automated External Defibrillator is the size of a laptop computer, costs about $2,300 and is not covered by medical insurance.

The machine analyzes the heart's rhythm for abnormalities and then directs the rescuer to deliver electric shock.

Many come with voice prompts, lights and text instructions. I

n 2004, the FDA granted clearance for the first over-the-counter sale of AEDs designed for use by the public.

AEDs are in malls, sporting arenas, offices and other public places.

The device is easy to use, but training increases the chances for survival.

A monthly maintenance plan should be in place to check for damage, low battery power and other problems that could prevent use during an emergency.

Source: American Red Cross and American Heart Association Emergency response The MedStar ambulance service wants to know where every AED is in its service area, which includes Fort Worth, Burleson, Edgecliff Village, Forest Hill, Haltom City, White Settlement, Lake Worth, Haslet, Lakeside, Westworth Village, Westover Hills, River Oaks, Sansom Park, Blue Mound and Saginaw. To report an AED within the MedStar service area call 817-632-0500, ext. 154.

Source: MedStar

Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Cardiac and Circulation

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS


Get JEMS in Your Inbox


Fire EMS Blogs

Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts


EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Four Killed in New Mexico Medical Plane Crash

Crash near fairgrounds claims patient and crew of three.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Texas Ambulance Involved in Crash

Odessa ambulance and car collide during response.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Las Vegas Fire, AMR Reach New Deal

Tentative agreement reached over ambulance calls.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Fire Damages Several Homes in California Earthquake

Four homes destroyed and others damaged after quake rattles Napa.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

New Mexico Air Ambulance Crash

NTSB investigates crash that killed four.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Where in the World of EMS is A.J.? Scranton

JEMS Editor-in-Chief visits his hometown of Scranton, Pa.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Over 100 Injured in California Earthquake

172 patients treated at Napa hospital after 6.0-magnitude earthquake.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >

More Product Videos >