FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Every Second Counts

Oct 3, 2008
2008 / June 2008

When I was a young teen, my 49-year old father died of sudden cardiac arrest while we were at home watching his favorite TV show. This was before CPR and 911. My mother quickly called our family doctor, who called the police for an ambulance. We waited helplessly for it to arrive, but all the squad could do was administer oxygen to my unconscious father and transport him to the hospital.

I knew I would probably never see him again.

Sudden cardiac arrest, also known as sudden cardiac death, is the rapid and unexpected loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. Characterized by an electrical disturbance in the heart, SCA causes the ventricles that usually help pump blood to quiver, rather than beat in a normal fashion. This abnormal cardiac rhythm is called ventricular fibrillation. During cardiac arrest your brain and vital organs are deprived of oxygen and circulating blood. Without immediate treatment, death may occur within minutes. If you survive, damage to the brain and other organs is a significant possibility.

Prompt treatment, including CPR to keep blood flowing through your body, may save your life. Early defibrillation with an automatic external defibrillator may significantly enhance your chances of survival. AEDs, portable devices about the size of a book that weigh four to six pounds, utilize a microprocessor to analyze heart rhythm and indicate if a shock is needed. Delivered by adhesive electrode pads placed on the victim’s chest, the jolt briefly stops the heart and allows it to restart its normal electrical function.

Ambulances and police cruisers are equipped with AEDs. The devices have also become standard emergency equipment on planes, in shopping malls, at airports and in other public gathering places. Now available over the counter without a prescription, small-business owners and patients at risk for cardiac arrest are purchasing them for home and office. The life-saving devices retail for $1,200 to $1,500.

When considering an AED purchase, visit the FDA Web site at http://www.fda.gov and search “AED” to weed out recalled models. Make sure directions are simple and easy to follow — many come with a training video or DVD — an emergency situation is not the time to figure out how to use an AED. It is also a good idea to review local and state laws pertaining to portable defibrillators.

If you decide to equip your home or office with an AED, be sure everyone knows how to use it. It’s a good idea to develop an emergency plan and review it, along with the AED instructional materials, every three to six months. Consider identifying a response team — a group of individuals trained in CPR who conduct practice drills and are responsible for routine maintenance and battery checks. Make sure the defibrillator is readily accessible. If it’s not immediately visible, install a sign to indicate its location.

Cardiac care and its associated technology have seen great advancements over the last 35 years. Though I regret AEDs were not available when my father suffered sudden cardiac arrest, I am thankful that today the devices may save others from experiencing such a heartbreaking loss. For more information, visit http://www.americanheartassociation.org

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FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

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