The next day I went to work a medical standby at a local music venue. Near where I sit is an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and there was a sign above it that looked just like this.
There it was. The sign, both literal and figurative, that I had been waiting for. This lightening bolt would be perfect for my new tangle. A tweak of the name and a step out and Dephib was born.
Since we are talking about AED's I'd like to take this opportunity to do a little educating. In case you don't know, an AED is a medical device that can be used by anyone to help fix an electrical abnormality in someones heart. Many people believe that defibrillators are used to "jump start" the heart and fill it with electricity when it isn't working properly, but actually it's kind of the opposite. Here's how it works.
The heart is a muscle. Through a very complex system the brain sends a signal to the heart cells telling them to combine certain electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium) and generate a tiny electrical charge that causes the heart muscle to contract. These contractions are what we feel on our wrist or neck as a pulse. These electrical impulses work on the heart in several different places creating an electrical "rhythm" that causes the heart to beat properly and allows blood to travel through the body. Sometimes this rhythm gets out of sync. This can be caused by stress, disease, caffeine, drugs, alcohol, and many other reasons. Many times we feel it as a harmless "butterfly" in our chest and the heart goes back into rhythm. This is very common. Sometimes however the heart rhythm becomes so disorganized it just "quivers" or fibrillates. When it happens in the top of the heart we call it Atrial Fibrillation. Many people have this condition and it is easily controlled with medication. When it happens in the lower part of the heart it is called Ventricular Fibrillation and this can be deadly. A defibrillator is used to nullify all the electrical activity in the heart and stop the "quiver" in the hopes that the heart can then recover and reset it's original rhythm. Unfortunately, sometimes a patient's heart has been damaged to the extent that no electrical activity exists when the paramedics arrive so defibrillation is not an option.
So why the anatomy and physiology lesson. Because it's important to understand how sudden cardiac death can occur and that you can be an important part of saving someones life. If you are able to become AED certified, please do so. It is now offered with most CPR classes and since AED's are being placed in more and more public places, you may be able to actually save a life.
The other way to help is by learning Hands Only CPR, which is also sometimes called Compression Only CPR. Research now shows that for a bystander, Hands Only CPR is more effective than traditional CPR techniques and has shown an increase in lives saved. The theory is that when someone collapses they still have 6-7 minutes of oxygen in their blood. If you can effectively circulate that blood until paramedics or the fire department arrive you have a great chance at saving a life. Here's a humorous video to show you how it's done:
And a more serious version:
I recently participated in an event where my company set a world record by training as many people as possible in Hands Only CPR in one day. In Sonoma county alone we were able to train over 1,000 people!
I hope you enjoy the new tangle and if available learn to use an AED. Please pass the videos around and encourage your friends and family to learn Hands Only CPR. I hope you will never need to use it but you will be glad you did if the situation ever arises.