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Doing the Right Thing and Prof-iting from It

Posted by Gary Finch on March 1, 2015

Using an automated external defibrillator (AED) on a person who is having sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) may save the person’s life. The most common cause of SCA is an arrhythmia called ventricular fibrillation (v-fib). In v-fib, the ventricles (the heart’s lower chambers) don’t beat normally. Instead, they quiver very rapidly and irregularly.

  Another arrhythmia that can lead to SCA is ventricular tachycardia. This is a fast, regular beating of the ventricles that may last for a few seconds or much longer. In people who have either of these arrhythmias, an electric shock from an AED can restore the heart’s normal rhythm (if done within minutes of the onset of SCA).

What Are the Signs of Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

  If someone is having SCA, you may see him or her suddenly collapse and lose consciousness. You may also find the person unconscious and unable to respond when you call or shake him or her. The person may not be breathing, or he or she may have an abnormal breathing pattern. If you check, you usually can’t find a pulse. The person’s skin also may become dark or blue from lack of oxygen. Also, the person may not move, or his or her movements may look like a seizure (spasms).

  An AED can check the person’s heart rhythm and determine whether an electric shock is needed to try to restore a normal rhythm.

  How does a Defibrillator work? Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are lightweight, battery-operated, portable devices that are easy to use. Sticky pads with sensors (called electrodes) are attached to the chest of the person who is having sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

  The electrodes send information about the person’s heart rhythm to a computer in the AED. The computer analyzes the heart rhythm to find out whether an electric shock is needed. If a shock is needed, the AED uses voice prompts to tell you when to give the shock and the electrodes deliver it.

  Using an AED to shock the heart within minutes of the start of SCA may restore a normal heart rhythm. Every minute counts. Each minute of SCA leads to a 10 percent reduction in survival.

Training To Use an Automated External Defibrillator

  Learning how to use an AED and taking a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) course are helpful. However, if trained personnel aren’t available, untrained people also can use an AED to help save someone’s life.

  Some people are afraid to use an AED to help save someone’s life. They’re worried that something might go wrong and that they might be sued. However, Good Samaritan laws in each State and the Federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act (CASA) provide some protection for untrained bystanders who respond to emergencies.

  Facility owners who are thinking about buying an AED should provide initial and ongoing training to likely rescuers (usually people who work in the facility). Also, it’s important to properly maintain an AED and notify local emergency officials of its location.

Is there a need for an AED in the Typical Funeral Home?

  Yes, and it is fairly evident. Start with the staff. Most times the average age of the funeral home staff includes senior workers. Funerals are also mostly attended by friends that are seniors.

Putting an AED in Your Facility?

  The cost to equip your facility with an effective AED and to have some of your employees trained on when and how to properly administer it is usually less than $2500. One of the first things you should do is run a press release. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute gives samples on their website. AED’s are found in schools, in leading restaurants, and in most health care facilities. The fact that you have an AED in your facility will give family and visitors an extra degree of comfort. In most cases, you will be the only funeral home that offers one.

  The AED will always generate goodwill. If you should save a life, something that is not beyond the realm of possibility, it will likely produce the kind of goodwill that cannot be bought. If you happen to have a few AED trained employees who visit homecomings and similar meetings, they should take the AED with them. Use it to save lives and at the same time, use it to grow your favorability in your community.



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