Hamlin collapse highlights need for CPR, AED training | News, Sports, Jobs

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz
Alpena Fire Department firefighter and paramedic Doug Krueger teaches Alpena Community College nursing students Autumn Madsen, Julie Shutes, and Elizabeth Krueger how to perform CPR on an infant on Tuesday.

ALPENA — When a person is having a heart attack, the difference between life and death is only a few minutes, Alpena Fire Chief Rob Edmonds said.

To increase the odds of more people surviving a cardiovascular emergency, it is important that as many people as possible know how to perform CPR and how to properly use an automated external defibrillator, or AED.

The topic of heart attacks and the need to respond to them quickly has spread around the nation after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday.

The two teams’ medical staff and emergency first responders were able to use CPR and an AED to restart the 26-year old’s heart and transfer him to the hospital, where he remains in critical condition.

For many people who have heart attacks, however, that same quick action and treatment isn’t always available.

Training and educating residents can help, Edmonds said.

Edmonds said his department aims to teach as many people as possible how to perform CPR and the ins and outs of an AED. He said that, because time is of the essence during a heart attack, if someone can begin treatment before medical personnel arrive, it increases the odds of survival.

“Four to six minutes is really about the maximum time for resuscitation efforts to be successful,” he said. “It’s not to say you can’t resuscitate someone that’s been down longer, but, the sooner you can identify there is a cardiac event, administer CPR and defibrillation, the better the chances of improving a patient’s outcome.”

Another important aspect of helping to save lives is to make AED units more widely available in the public — especially in rural areas, where it can take responders longer to arrive at the scene, Edmonds said. An automated external defibrillator is used to help people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest and is an easy-to-use medical device that can analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electric shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.

“It basically resets the heartbeat,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds said schools, large stores, and places like the APlex and Northern Lights Arena have AED machines, and the department is working with local churches and other facilities where large groups of people gather to make sure they have AED units on site.

Edmonds said Alpena Fire Community Risk Reduction Capt. Andy Marceau is working toward that goal.

“There has been a push for the last several years for more public access defibrillation and for more defibrillators to be in public areas,” he said. “It is an early detection device that can be used by the layperson until the paramedics get there and can do more advanced procedures.”

Because AED units are not widely available now, Edmonds said it is even more important for people to learn CPR. He said Marceau has helped make sure all Alpena Public Schools staff members are trained in CPR and AEDs and classes are available for residents.

Because there is always a risk of injury at large events, such as sports games, Edmonds said the department does its best to have paramedics at the games.

“If we have a rig available and not pulling other emergency calls,” he said. “We will have them at football and hockey games, because they are high-impact sports and the risk of injury is higher. At things like basketball games, there may be a crew on standby there.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.

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