The defibrillators are coming
Fermilab has started a program of having defibrillators in public areas of the laboratory.
You may have noticed some boxes on the walls of various Fermilab facilities. This is part of an initiative to put defibrillators in public areas of the laboratory as well as near accessible electrical circuits where they have been for some time.
The use of Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) can increase survivability by 31 percent, compared to a 6 percent survival rate through use of CPR alone.
Science has established that the heart goes into fibrillation in response to an electric shock resulting in a disorganized quivering of the heart muscle. It's the lack of effective blood flow in this rhythm that kills. This electrical link was first discovered by Danish naturalist Soren Abildgaard, who observed in 1775 that electric current can render chickens lifeless.
It was later discovered that advanced heart disease can induce the same fatal rhythm as electrical shock.
It is estimated that there are 160,000 hospital deaths attributed to ventricular fibrillation annually in the U.S.
Defibrillators were invented as a way to restore the normal rhythm of the heart, and by 2004 and the Food and Drug Administration had allowed the purchase AEDs without a prescription.
Modern AED units are extremely safe and use verbal prompts to talk the user through the process of placing the two pads, analysis and shock. The last two steps are automated, so no one should be afraid to use these devices. The unit will not discharge unless the appropriate rhythm is sensed.
Illinois law requires that along with AED placement, likely users of that AED should be trained in CPR. This is merely insuring the best chances of survival. The lab has been offering CPR training for many years.
Federal and state "Good Samaritan" laws protect those using the units appropriately. So back to Abildgard, there is no need for you, a loved one or a coworker to be a chicken.
-- Brian Svazas, MD