With CPR, AEDs, anyone can save a life

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 5:27 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - When it comes to medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest, every second counts.

In the case of NFL player Damar Hamlin, it took just moments before first responders were at his side, administering CPR and using an AED. But you don’t have to be a world-class doctor to jump in when these types of situations arise.

According to the CDC, CPR and the use of an AED within minutes of a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital can “dramatically raise survival rates.” The concern, however, is that those tools are “not commonly used or available.”

The lack of accessible AEDs is of particular concern to Bangor physician Andrew Ehrhard.

“If there were more AEDs around and someone had a rhythm that could be shocked, then it could keep them alive until they get to the hospital. So it could directly save lives,” said Ehrhard, medical director for Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center’s emergency department.

According to the Red Cross, an AED, or automated external defibrillator, analyzes the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, delivers an electrical shock. The devices do not require any specialized training.

“AEDs are actually quite easy to use. There’s only one or two buttons. It’s usually like a power button and a shock button. You put the two pads on the person’s chest. The AED does all the work to figure out if the patient needs to be shocked or not. It will physically talk to you and say, ‘charging.’ And then it will physically talk to you and say, ‘push the shock button,’ and then you push the shock button and that’s it,” explained Ehrhard.

While the CDC notes you don’t need formal training to perform CPR either, they do suggest taking a class to increase your confidence.

Dr. Ehrhard points to the courses offered by the American Red Cross as a great option.

In a statement to TV5, the organization said:

“Our thoughts are with Damar Hamlin, his family and the entire NFL community, and we are hopeful he has a fast and full recovery.

Accidents and emergencies can happen anytime at home, in the workplace or in the community. Every second counts when sudden cardiac arrest occurs, and it’s critical to know what to do in an emergency. If you see someone suddenly collapse and you don’t know CPR, call or have someone else call 911 and start Hands-Only CPR.

The Red Cross recommends this lifesaving training for everyone, including parents, grandparents and caregivers. Red Cross First Aid training takes only a few hours, and can give you the skills and confidence to act in an emergency and help save a life.”

“I would say that if you work at a place with an AED, find out where it is, and find out how to use it. You could save a coworkers life. Same with CPR. If you know how to perform CPR you can save your coworkers life, as well as someone at the store, or wherever you are,” Ehrhard said.

To learn more about the training services the Red Cross offers, visit their website: https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class.