By Timothy Jensen
The state of Utah has more than 2,000 trained volunteers to aid people during cardiac arrest by using a defibrillation machine.
The national Public Access Defibrillation group honored Utah for its participation in a study aimed at training non-medical personnel in public facilities to successfully carry out procedures of treating cardiac arrest.
“There are far more people in Utah prepared in an event of cardiac arrest,” said Joy Erickson, a member of American Heart Association. Currently, more than 80 Utah public facilities are equipped with an Automatic External Defibrillator and a AED trained staff who can provide life-saving defibrillator shocks during cardiac arrests.
Every year more than 220,000 Americans die from sudden cardiac arrest, and defibrillation is the only effective treatment. Every minute a victim goes without defibrillation, their chances of survival decreases by 10 percent.
“If it [my incident] happened a month before, I would have died,” said Michael Christiansen, a cardiac arrest survivor.
Christiansen experienced a cardiac arrest while exercising at Dimple Dell Recreation Center in Sandy on Aug. 1, 2001.
“I had just finished exercising and I don”t remember falling,” Christiansen said. “All I can remember is turning.”
Christiansen said the next thing he knew, two women were standing above him. These women, trained by PAD, performed CPR and used a defibrillator on Christiansen.
“The only thing I remember is my chest hurt pretty bad,” Christiansen said. “It [the shock from the defibrillation] is a good jolt.”
Christiansen said he spent three days recovering in the hospital. A defibrillator was placed in his chest, acting as a pacemaker that measures his heart rate.
Erickson said CPR is used to get the blood flowing in the body and defibrillation is specifically used to give the heart a shock.
“It is wonderful that PAD is training these individuals because if they did not, I would not be here today,” Christiansen said.