Wednesday, November 30, 2005

High School Student Saved By Physical Education Teachers

11/30/2005 6:00 PM
(Katrina Irwin, WROC-TV)

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Three years ago Thursday, a state law went into effect, requiring automated external defibrillators inside schools. Since then 19 people have been saved. The most recent on Tuesday when a 16-year-old high school student in Naples collapsed during gym class. To watch the WROC-TV news report, use the links under the picture of the AED. Select "High" if you have DSL or cable modem, or select "Low" if you have a dial-up connection.

"He was feeling a little dizzy, sat down, was feeling a little better, got up and took about three steps and collapsed," says Courtney Conrad. She and two other teachers in the gym immediately put their first responder training to good use.

"It was scary for all of us, I mean we try to keep our cool as much as possible. Overall you're really scared when something like that happens," says Frank Gleichauf.

They administered CPR, called 9-1-1 and ran for the schools automated external defibrillator, or AED. It's a machine similar to this one that instructs people about how to give a life-saving shock to the heart.

Conrad says, "it said analyzing and it said shock advised and I shocked. And it was terrifying, but on the other hand after two shocks we had a weak pulse, but a pulse. And weak breathing but breathing and it was a huge relief."

A couple years ago the state required all school districts to have these AED machines, at the time some said complained about the unfunded mandate. But nobody's complaining here in Naples anymore."

Superintendent Brenda Keith says, "No one is complaining at all. In fact we're looking at assessing all our buildings to know whether we have enough of the AED's in place."

This was the first time an AED has been used at the Naples school district.

Copyright © 2001-2005 WROC-TV 8

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Near-Death Scare Shows Need for Lifesaving Tool

By Angelique S. Chengelis - The Detroit News
November 23, 2005

DETROIT-- Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer likely would not have survived Monday night without the immediate use of an automated external defibrillator.

A defibrillator, now found in most airplanes, airports, sporting arenas, universities, shopping malls and health clubs, is a computerized medical device that checks a person's heart rhythm and determines whether an electrical shock -- defibrillation -- is needed.

The procedure temporarily stops all electrical activity to let the heart's own natural pacemaker restart in a regular pattern.

Fischer collapsed because of an unexplained, life-threatening heart arrhythmia during a game against Nashville. He immediately was attended to by team trainers and team physician Dr. Tony Colucci. Colucci initiated chest compressions, and a defibrillator was placed on Fischer's chest to shock the heart.

"That is one of the crucial things I want to come out of this, that … (a) monitor should be in every public place," Colucci said. "It should be in any arena, period. Football, baseball, hockey, anywhere there is athletics at a much-peaked level. These are lifesaving machines that should be in every arena, every sports facility throughout the country."

Fischer was revived and transported to Detroit Receiving Hospital, where he will undergo further tests.

"If you don't have those (the chest compressions and defibrillator), you have a different outcome," Colucci said at a news conference Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena.

"That helped and aided in bringing Mr. Jiri Fischer back to a normal sinus rhythm. That was very critical. Again, the message out there is basic CPR and the … monitor and the quick response."

Colucci said a defibrillator is a lifesaving device that can easily be used by anyone. A defibrillator is portable, weighs about 5 pounds and costs about $1,500, nearly half what it cost seven years ago.

"It's fairly simple," Colucci said of the use of a defibrillator. "I had a discussion (Tuesday) morning with my children, telling them how easy it is. You place it on the chest, and basically the machine evaluates the cardiac situation and rhythm, and it tells you exactly what to do."

In September 2004, the Food and Drug Administration approved over-the-counter sales of automatic external defibrillators designed specifically for consumers.

The machine comes with advice for potential users to get some training and is not a substitute for paramedics -- people are supposed to call 911 before grabbing the defibrillator.

Troy attorney Randy Gillary is working to make certain all Michigan high schools have a defibrillator. Gillary and his wife, Susan, started the Kimberly Anne Gillary Foundation in 2000 after their 15-year-old daughter died during a Troy Athens water polo match at Birmingham Groves.

Kimberly Gillary received CPR from a cardiac nurse at the match, but a defibrillator was not available. She was unable to be revived.

To honor their daughter, the Gillarys raise money to purchase defibrillators for high schools. Since 2000, the Gillarys have supplied 300, and there are 127 schools on the waiting list. The first school that received a defibrillator from the foundation was Groves.

The foundation donates the defibrillator and pay for training for up to five staff members.

"We try to focus on the positive," Randy Gillary said. "Our goal is to help other high school children."

A defibrillator was used Monday at Howell High School when Mackenzie Watts, a sophomore and member of the Howell High School varsity swim team, suffered a seizure at the school district's aquatic center.

Emergency crews responded within five minutes, says Chuck Breiner, superintendent of Howell Public Schools. Paramedics administered the defibrillator before transporting Mackenzie to St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital near the high school. But she was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Nate Hampton, assistant director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, said his organization relies on the staff of the facility in use, such as Ford Field or the Breslin Center in East Lansing, to handle an emergency like the one that took place Monday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Hampton said he and other members of the MHSAA staff encourage school districts to be as ready as they can be for any medical or other types of emergencies.

"Not only do you have to have the proper equipment," he said. "You have the have the proper training of the equipment. Medical emergencies of all kinds scare us. In playing today's athletic activities you try to be ready for all uncertainties."

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Coincidence? I Don't Think So

By John Gray - 11/02/2005

I don't believe in coincidences. Not really.
I think the world turns in strange ways that put us in the path of certain people at certain times.

Nowhere was this more evident than two weeks ago. At Fox 23 News, I co-host a show called In Focus, which airs Sunday mornings. A producer lines up my guests, and from week to week I have no idea who is coming through the door or what they want to talk about.

My guest recently was a man named Jim King. Last November, Jim was playing pick-up basketball with some friends at a local school gymnasium when he suffered a massive heart attack. In a matter of seconds, he was dead on the floor. They performed CPR and then went looking for help. The school janitor, a guy named Joe Wiley, had just been trained on a new machine the school purchased, called an AED. That stands for "automated external defibrillator."

It's a machine that sends an electrical charge into someone whose heart has stopped and gets them breathing again. A one-second jolt can bring a person back from the dead. Mr. Wiley zapped Jim King, and next thing you know, he was looking up at his teammates wondering what all the fuss was about.

As impressed as I was with Mr. Wiley, I am even more impressed with the machine itself. It's nothing like the ones we saw on hospital TV shows growing up. No big metal paddles that have to be hand-held. This machine, honest to God, an 8-year-old could operate. Not only are there only three simple steps, but the machine talks you through it. If you can make coffee, you can operate the AED and save a life.

Jim was very lucky that he happened to drop dead in a school. Three years ago, the state Legislature passed a law requiring every high school in New York to have one of these machines. They only cost $2,500. I asked Jim about the origins of the law, and he said it was passed in memory of a young athlete whose heart stopped during a lacrosse game back in 2000.

The next day, I attended a fund-raiser for Fear Park in Troy. At the event, a woman approached me with a brochure in her hand. She said, "Mr. Gray, my name is Sandy, and this is a picture of my grandson Louis. Can you help me keep other children like him from dying?"

She went on to tell me that her grandson, Louis Acompora, was playing lacrosse on March 25, 2000, when he was hit in the chest by a ball. His heart stopped, and they could not revive him because no one had an AED. She told me his family lobbied hard, and in 2003 a law was passed requiring them in high schools.

Yes, it was the same boy I just heard about. Coincidence? I don't think so either.

Sandy, along with Jim King, wonders why we don't have these life-saving machines everywhere - malls, apartment buildings, anyplace lots of people live or gather. Our legislature got it right requiring them in schools. Now they need to go much farther. Surely $2,500 is a small price to pay to save even one life. If they want to charge me a nickel more in my taxes that's fine. Money well spent, I say.

John Gray is co-anchor of Fox 23 News. His column runs every Wednesday
©The Record 2005
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