Automated external defibrillators accessible on campus

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An automated external defibrillator recently helped save a 6-year-old boy’s life in Spanish Fork when his heart stopped while at recess. When the boy’s heart stopped,  the police arrived within two minutes to successfully restore the boys heartbeat using an AED in conjunction with CPR. If a similar event were to occur on BYU campus, the university has made sure AEDs are quickly accessible in all high traffic areas.

“We have 24 scattered throughout campus in various areas, different buildings, and there are four at the MTC,” said David Petersen, emergency manager at BYU. “We purchase additional ones each year. We tend to put them in the highest traffic areas, or the buildings with the highest volume of students, staff, faculty and visitors. We have more than one at the Wilkinson center, and we have more than one at the library.”

AEDs are used with situations where an individual’s heart has either stopped beating or begun beating at an irregular rate. The state of Utah’s value of these tools is evidenced by legislation passed in 2010 requiring emergency medical dispatchers to inform a person reporting an incident of cardiac arrest of the location of any nearby AED.

Whitney May Booth, a senior in the nursing program, said that AEDs are easy to use even without formal training.

“The good thing about AEDs is that they can tell you if a person needs mouth to mouth, if they need a shock delivered, or if there are compressions that need to be delivered,” Booth said. “So that’s the really cool thing, it walks people through what they need to do.”

AEDs are mounted in wall cabinets similar to fire extinguishers. The cabinets are alarmed to notify BYU dispatch when someone uses an AED. BYU dispatch then will send an officer and EMT to the location where the AED is being used.

“By law, any individual can use an AED,” Petersen said. “If you follow the instructions on it, you’re actually covered under the Good Samaritan act.”

Booth said she faced the fear of having to help a patient with heart problems while doing work for the nursing program.

“I was there when a patient went into cardiac arrest, and we had to use a defibrillator and CPR at the same time,” Booth said. “It was scary, but it was really good.”

The defibrillators on campus are inspected monthly to ensure they are ready for quick use when they are needed.

“The sooner an AED can be used, the higher probability of a successful outcome for a patient,” Petersen said. “At some point without a heartbeat and breathing there’s irreversible damage done to the heart, lungs and brain. Even an AED can’t overcome that.”

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