MEMIC Helps the American Heart Association Educate Maine Employers About CPR, AEDs

CPR and AED Awareness Week is recognized nationally each year from June 1st to June 7th.   Educating and training the public on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) use is an important public health concern.  With 350,000 people suffering sudden cardiac arrest each year, the Red Cross believes that all Americans should be within four minutes of an AED and that improved training and access to AEDs could save 50,000 lives each year.  MEMIC encourages all employers to offer AEDs in the workplace and to train workers on Hands-Only CPR.  Performing CPR and using an AED can triple a person’s chance of survival.  Most likely, that person is someone you know or love.

Phil Napolitano, the husband of a MEMIC employee, was saved by an AED.  He had just finished a game of basketball when he collapsed on the gym floor.  Thankfully, a teammate saw an AED and used it to bring Phil’s heart back to normal rhythm, giving paramedics enough time to arrive and transport him to Maine Medical Center.  Today, thanks to the defibrillator and the quick action of his friend, Phil’s heart is normal and he faces no physical restrictions.  Phil’s experience is a wonderful example of how an AED saved the life of someone close to us.

An AED is a lightweight, battery operated, portable device.  It has electrodes with sticky pads that are placed on a person’s chest.  Once attached, the AED analyzes the heart looking for an arrhythmia.  If the AED detects one of two arrythmias – Ventricular Tachycardia (V-Tach) or Ventricular Fibrillation (V-Fib) – it will send an electrical shock that can restore a normal heart rhythm.  Every AED will have visual and/or audio prompts to inform the user of the proper steps to take.  These small machines are very user-friendly and have become much more affordable in recent years.  The American Heart Association can help you or your organization with facilitating the purchase of an AED.  They can also help to find CPR and AED training in your area.

The American Heart Association  describes the same two steps to take if a teen or adult collapses:

  1. Call 911.
  2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the disco song “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé, “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira or “Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash (100 to 120 beats per minute).

Hands-Only CPR is noted to be just as effective as conventional CPR.  The AHA still recommends the conventional CPR with chest compressions and breaths be done for infants and children, as well as for people who collapse due to breathing problems, or for victims of drowning or drug overdose.

Most people wonder what causes someone to suddenly lose consciousness and collapse.  Cardiac arrest is the most common reason and noted to be a leading cause of death.  It is an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and disrupts blood flow to the brain and other organs.  If this occurs, immediate chest compressions from someone nearby can save that person’s life.  Click here for the AHA Hands-Only CPR Fact Sheet.

By Christina Michaud, Safety Management Consultant, LPN, WCP, MEMIC