John S. SaryaNorth Michigan A.E.D.
403 State St.
Traverse City, MI 49686
Defibrillators & Supplies Links
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), also known as ventricular fibrillation (VF), is an electrical malfunction of the heart. With VF, the regular, systematic pumping action of the heart's chambers stops because the normal electrical signal that runs through the heart in a prescribed sequence has been interrupted for some reason. Electrical chaos ensues and results in uncontrolled, non-productive quivering of the heart chambers.
There are many causes - congenital defects, illness, heart attack, environmental conditions, even physical contact! A hard blow to the chest can knock a healthy youngster or a well-conditioned athlete, into cardiac arrest. Dehydration or heat exertion can do the same. Did you know that most drowning victims go into cardiac arrest as well? The bottom line is that anyone, at any age, can become a victim of sudden cardiac arrest!
Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the United States and Europe. The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that between 225,000 - 300,000 people die suddenly each year in the U.S. from coronary heart disease, most before ever reaching a hospital. An estimated additional 350,000 - 750,000 patients annually experience cardiac arrest and undergo attempted resuscitation during hospitalization.
The causes of cardiac arrest are numerous; by far the most common in adults is ischemic cardiovascular disease. Sudden cardiac arrest is usually associated with the onset of a lethal, chaotic heart rhythm, classified as ventricular fibrillation (VF), which causes restricted blood flow, loss of pulse, unconsciousness, and eventual death. The only definitive therapy for returning a heart in VF to its normal rhythm is defibrillation. Defibrillation involves providing a controlled electrical stimulation through a patient's chest to restore normal heart rhythm. The efficiency of defibrillation is directly tied to how quickly it is administered. As the length of time between the onset of sudden cardiac arrest and the application of defibrillation therapy increases, the less likely it will become that the restoration of a normal heartbeat and full recovery will occur. In general, for every minute that passes between the onset of cardiac arrest and defibrillation, the probability of survival decreases by 7 to 10 percent. After 10 minutes the probability of survival is extremely low.
The American Heart Association--in conjunction with other major resuscitation councils around the world--recently acknowledged that providing rapid defibrillation therapy is the single most important factor in determining the survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest victims. The medical community is also becoming increasingly aware that reducing the time interval between the onset of SCA and defibrillation is the most effective way to increase a victim's chance of survival from sudden cardiac arrest.
Are There Any Warning Signs of SCA?No, and sadly enough the first sign of heart problems in most men is sudden cardiac arrest. SCA claims more than 350,000 lives each year, primarily because lifesaving treatment, that is, early defibrillation, does not reach the victims within the first critical minutes.
Is SCA the Same Thing As A Heart Attack?No! A heart attack and SCA are two different things, although they can occur together. A heart attack is caused by a blockage in a coronary artery which results in a sustained lack of blood flow (and consequently oxygen) to a part of the heart. If the blockage is not resolved in a timely manner, the heart tissue below the blockage will "infarct" or die. If the dead tissue also happened to be part of the heart's specialized electrical system, SCA could be triggered. During a heart attack, the heart can continue to beat, and often the victim remains conscious. In fact, people can be having heart attacks and not even know it! (This is known as a silent heart attack.) Typically however, a person having a heart attack experiences considerable discomfort or pain in the chest, left arm, jaw, back, or neck, and at some point may lose consciousness.
How Does A Defibrillator "Treat" SCA?A heart in SCA is very much like a hysterical person who can't be calmed down. A shock to the heart acts just like a slap in the face for the hysterical person. It stuns the heart tissue, disrupting the electrical chaos, and allows the normal electrical sequencing of the heart (and, subsequently pumping action) to resume.
The Paramedics Are Close By, Why Should We Have a Defibrillator?Although your local Fire Station may be just around the corner, there are many factors that can delay their response. The engines may not be in when they get your call. There may be traffic issues. It may take them some time to get from the curb to the building or from the entrance to the victim.
While a 6-8 minute response time seems very efficient, consider the fact that a victim's chance of survival from SCA decreases by 10% with every minute that passes, and less than 5% of SCA victims survive with CPR alone. And ask yourself how long the patient was down before he/she was found? How tragic it is when EMS arrives on the scene only to find that the patient has already died.
Does a Defibrillator Take the Place of CPR?No. A defibrillator is part of CPR. For maximum benefits (that is, best chance of survival) you must use the two tools together!
Can I Hurt Someone With A Defibrillator?No! There are two things to remember here. First, a victim of SCA is essentially dead. Early defibrillation represents that person's only chance for survival. Second, a defibrillator will not shock someone who does not need to be shocked. It's that simple.
Are There Limits Regarding Who the SAMARITAN ® Public Access Defibrillator Can Be Used On?Defibrillation therapy is appropriate for infants and children, as well as adults, as long as the appropriate pads are used. Typically, children over 55 lbs (25 kg) or 8 years of age are defibrillated as adults.
What About Using A Defibrillator On Metal or Wet Surfaces?Always check with the manufacturer, but most defibrillators--because they are self- grounded--can be safely used in wet environments and on metal surfaces with no risk to the victim or rescuer.
Aren't I At Risk For A Lawsuit If I Use A Defibrillator?No. Since mid 2001, all fifty states in the US have passed Good Samaritan Laws, and many continue to expand the parameters of civil immunity in the hope of encouraging the deployment of more defibrillators in the community, in the workplace, and at home. Clearly, this is something that all sectors of both the state and federal governments are in agreement on.
North Michigan A.E.D.- Defibrillators & Supplies
403 E. State Street
Traverse City MI 49686