Defibrillators key to cardiac arrest survival
Quick staff reactions and ready access to a defibrillator may have saved the life of a 61-year old Sharon man who collapsed while working out.
The man, whose name was not released, was in stable condition Thursday after being transported to Norwood Hospital, Fire Lt. John Hutchinson said. It was not possible to check on his condition today because his name was not made public.
Canton Club’s trainer, Herb Fox, used the club’s automatic defibrillator after the man collapsed while on an elliptical machine at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
“I got there and he was down and blue. It was a team effort by everybody,” Fox said.
“The people at the club did exactly what they are supposed to do. Early defibrillation is the key to survival in cardiac arrests,” Hutchinson said.
A state law passed in 2007 requires health clubs to have a defibrillator available at all times by January of 2008.
The law was passed after the death of a 22-year-old woman who collapsed at a Planet Fitness gym in Plymouth. Kayla Richards, who worked at Jordan hospital, collapsed and died while exercising on a treadmill. Doctors said she died from a rare type of heart arrhythmia and that a defibrillator might have saved her life.
Several nurses at Jordan Hospital, including Kayla’s mother Judy Richards and Carolyn Fahey, campaigned for the law, which is called Kayla’s Law.
“It became my mission to make this very simple piece of equipment available. It would have saved Kayla if it had been available,” said Fahey.
“We as nurses know what great equipment that is. It’s lifesaving equipment that’s affordable, and people should have access to it, especially kids.”
Fahey, along with Richards and others, have not stopped with getting defibrillators in gyms. They are now working to get a law passed that would require defibrillators in all public schools.
Since most children do not get cardiac workups, a collapse can be the first sign of a heart condition, and having access to a defibrillator could be vital to saving lives, said Fahey. The collapse that led to Kayla’s death was the first time she showed any symptoms of her rare heart condition.
A defibrillator, which costs less than $1,500, is a computerized device that can check a person’s heart rhythm. Voice prompts tell a rescuer when a shock is needed and when CPR should be performed.
The American Heart Association offers CPR and defibrillator training through local networks and training centers. People can become certified in as little as four hours.
Don Conkey contributed to this report. Stephanie Choate may be reached at email@example.com.