Each year, about 380,000 Americans of all ages die of sudden cardiac arrest, making it the leading cause of death in this country.
Fortunately, Bloomdale’s Ron Rook proved sudden cardiac arrest doesn’t have to be fatal.
Through what some are calling divine intervention, Rook suffered a heart attack, collapsed and stopped breathing during a pickup basketball game at the Findlay First Church of the Nazarene earlier this month.
Quick action by Chad Beach and Chris England, who used an automated external defibrillator (AED) and administered CPR until paramedics arrived, is credited with saving Rook, who was later found to have a 100 percent-blocked coronary artery and required bypass surgery.
That Rook survived is a tribute to Beach and England, but also due to the fact that he collapsed near an AED. Interestingly, it was Rook himself who had encouraged the church to purchase two of the devices two years ago, and urged church members to become certified in their use.
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the electrical impulses that control the heart suddenly misfire. The mild electric shock from an AED “resets” the heart and allows it to resume normal function. Bystanders revive several thousand people this way each year, but more widespread use of the AEDs could save at least 20,000 more, according to the American Red Cross.
Having one handy, rather than depending solely on EMS, is critical because experts recognize “speed to shock” is the most important aspect of AED lifesaving.
Up to 90 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims receiving AED treatment within two minutes survive, but the chances of survival decrease with each passing minute. By 10 minutes, most die.
A Johns Hopkins University study found that “speed is more important than training.” On average, early AED defibrillation before EMS arrival seems to nearly double a victim’s odds of survival, the study found.
But unlike Rook, most sudden cardiac arrest victims don’t have a chance to be saved because an AED is not available.
There are an estimated 2.4 million AEDs in the U.S., but 30 million are said to be needed to significantly improve the sudden cardiac arrest survival rate of 8 percent.
Rook’s wife, Nancy, said she hopes her husband’s story gets others talking and thinking. We do, too.
It should encourage more gyms, schools, colleges and businesses to add AEDs to their emergency supply tool chest if they haven’t already, and inspire more people to take CPR/AED training classes offered regularly by the Hancock County chapter of the Red Cross, and other groups.
Ohio law allows lay persons to use AEDs and provides users limited immunity under a good Samaritan law. The devices themselves are said to be simple enough to be understood by a sixth-grader. There’s no good reason why AEDs shouldn’t become as common as fire extinguishers.
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