The Advocate: Parish employees train on defibrillators

Dec 15, 2011

The Advocate, December 15, 2011:  Ascension Parish employees took turns operating three new portable defibrillators on training dummies last week following instructions by a certified technician, all part of a wellness and safety program implemented by Parish President Tommy Martinez, according to a news release from parish government.

The automated external defibrillators cost about $2,500 each, parish Human Resources Director Cheryl Kinchen, said.  She said two were purchased though her department’s funding, while one was purchased with parish Health Unit funds.

Kinchen said one AED would be housed in an accessible cabinet in the Department of Public Works building on Churchpoint Road and the other AEDs and cabinets will be in the Gonzales Courthouse East and the Donaldsonville Courthouse.

Tag Doss with FlexMed and Rae Milano with Lofton Staffing Services presented the training class with the defibrillators.

Doss, a registered nurse and chief nursing officer with FlexMed, said between 350,000 to 400,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest nationwide every year.  "It is more prevalent than and more common than AIDS, HIV, breast cancer, prostate cancer, gun deaths, automobile accidents and fires combined,” Doss said.  "We can’t cure cancer with some machine right now, but we can treat cardiac arrest with the use of a defibrillator.  Using this device within the first three minutes of sudden cardiac arrest increases survival by 70 percent.”

Doss said for every minute that someone is in a collapsed state and in sudden cardiac arrest, that person's chance of survivial decreases by 7 to 10 percent.

He said the first two steps a person should do when discovering someone who is unresponsive or not breathing normally is to call 911 and go get the AED if available.

"These devices are designed to be used by people that could have no training at all," Doss said.  "It's going to walk and talk you through every step of the process."

When turned on, each AED unit begins walking the user through operational steps by audio instruction prompts.  If a prompt is not carried through, the machine will repeat the audio message.

The unit comes with two shock pads that attach to the patient's upper right side of the chest and the lower left side chest area.  With the unit turned on and the pads attached to the patient, the AED will automatically scan and read the patient's condition and determine by audio prompts what actions need to be taken.  Those prompts will also include when a user should begin chest compressions followed by assisted breaths and for how long.

"It is only going to shock when it knows it needs to shock," Doss said. "You can press the shock button a hundred times but if it says 'no shock,' it will not shock.  They only rhythm that it will shock is ventricular fibrillation.

Doss said defibrillator technology has improved and that touching a patient being shocked will only disrupt the AED's scan of the patient but not be harmful to the other person.

If the AED determines that chest compressions should be started, it will ask users if they need help on how to perform CPR.  By pressing a blue button on the AED, instructions begin and a pulsing beat sounds, showing the users at what speed the compressions should be delivered.

"CPR and AED should be thought of as a married couple," Doss said.  "I applaud your organization for putting these in here.  You should know that your work place is a safer place."

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