Hart's gift of heart machine could save a life sometime

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Hart's Family Center has donated a Medtronic Lifepak CR Plus automated external defibrillator (AED) to Eureka Springs High School.

An AED staff training program is also being implemented in cooperation with the American Heart Association (AHA).

The defibrillator is a small, self-contained unit weighing less than five pounds.

Aimee Smith, instructor of the medical professions education class at the high school, demonstrated how it works Monday morning.

"When you open the cover, you activate the machine," she said. "The machine has a voice that tells you each step in how to use the machine. It tells you to take off the patient's shirt, where to place the patches and what to do.

"If the person has no pulse or is not breathing, the machine can tell you how to handle that. It gives you time to carry out each instruction."

Unlike the hospital version of a defibrillator where large "paddles" are placed against a patient's chest and a machine generates the voltage necessary for the shock to the heart, the lines from the Lifepak CR Plus are in the small patches that are put on the patient's chest.

"Everything is very compact and easy to operate," Smith said.

Hart's was able to purchase the machine through the Associated Wholesale Grocers participation in the AED program as part of a U.S. Freedom Corps program.

"We were very pleased to be able to participate in this program," said Tom Galyen. "We recognize that schools are a gathering place for a lot of activities. Having this machine available may help save a life."

He said the estimated cost of the machine is $2,400.

The AHA estimates that 7,000 to 10,000 children and up to 450,000 Americans die each year from sudden cardiac arrest.

While not everyone can be saved with an AED, survival rates can jump from less than 5 percent to nearly 70 percent if defibrillation occurs within the first three to five minutes.

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