Last night, the life of one of my friends was saved by a defibrillator located at a squash club. He was only 36; he’d played a doubles match that wasn’t particularly intense. He played in the match before me and several of us were chatting about the match. Suddenly he felt faint and collapsed. Quickly matters got worse as his heart stopped. 911 was called, but the paramedics took about 12-15 minutes to get there.

The squash club (not my club) had installed a defibrillator only last Friday. One of the members who had been trained in the defibrillator happened to be there and took charge of the matter. The defibrillator gave oral instructions, diagnosed the situation and shocked my friend. It worked almost instantaneously and he returned. A doctor happened to be there, but he said that anything other than a defibrillator would have been ineffective and my friend would have been dead by the time the paramedics arrived. Or if we had played at that club last week instead of this week, he would have been dead.


  1. PaulH
    Posted Nov 3, 2006 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

    Just 1 year ago I was watching a hockey game on TV between the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and the Nashville Predators when Detroit player Jiri Fischer collapsed. An automated external defibrillator (AED) was available and was used to save his life:

    These suitcase-sized devices are life-savers.

  2. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Nov 3, 2006 at 11:21 AM | Permalink

    Sounds like a great innovation and I sincerely hope that its use will not be limited by the potential for the occurrence of less than reasonable litigations against the user.

  3. James Erlandson
    Posted Nov 3, 2006 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

    re 2:
    Any person who uses or attempts to use an automated external defibrillator device on a victim … is immune from civil liability …
    106 Congress, 2d Session, H.R. 2498
    There are also many state laws.

  4. John G. Bell
    Posted Nov 3, 2006 at 12:41 PM | Permalink

    AEDs are often on aircraft these days. They work and can be used by people that have no training on them with good results. Your friend was in a particularly serious situation as physical activity had shortened the amount of time he could remain fibrillated and be revived.

    Take a CPR class. An AED will almost never be around when you need it.

  5. Francois Ouellette
    Posted Nov 3, 2006 at 1:53 PM | Permalink

    #4 About 10 years ago I was on a flight to Australia from LA, and someone had a cardiac arrest in the plane. Luckily there was a defibrillator in the plane and the man could be saved. At that time, I had heard that only Qantas had defibrillators in all of their planes. I guess since then other companies have gotten equipped.

  6. Francois Ouellette
    Posted Nov 3, 2006 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

    No such luch in Mexico, however, where we witnessed someone dying from a heart attack, while playing tennis with his son on Christmas day…

  7. James Erlandson
    Posted Nov 3, 2006 at 2:46 PM | Permalink

    Prepare for Emergencies with American Red Cross First Aid, CPR and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Courses
    American Red Cross first aid, CPR and AED programs are designed to give you the confidence to respond in an emergency situation with skills that can save a life.
    A few hours in class and you could save a life.

  8. Dane
    Posted Nov 3, 2006 at 2:56 PM | Permalink

    Excellent posts. I recommend the cpr class as well. I Was put in the unfortunate position last yr of having to perform CPR on a heart attack victim on the clients property, a client employee, during work hours. All the training clicked in and myself with the help of my driller, we saved the guy. It was quite scary. Paramedics arrived about 1 minute after we got his heart beating again. It took like over 5 minutes to get his heart restarted using cpr, but it still worked. The guy was young, 30 yrs old, maybe that helped?

  9. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Nov 3, 2006 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

    RE: #8 – that is key, CPR can indeed take a while to have an effect. Don’t stop until the paramedics arrive and take over, no matter how long it takes. Even if CPR never properly restarts the heart at least you are keeping the blood flowing.

  10. Doug
    Posted Nov 3, 2006 at 4:01 PM | Permalink

    I had a friend survive 20 minutes of CPR with no pulse. They shocked him three times with no luck, and finally paramedics got his pulse back with an adrenalin injection to the chest.

    The CPR was applied by a doctor who happened to be in the weightroom at the time, so he knew his stuff, but it shows that one should not give up.

  11. John G. Bell
    Posted Nov 3, 2006 at 4:29 PM | Permalink

    The doctor would have still been doing CPR when the paramedics arrived had the AED not been available and your friends heart not restarted.

  12. James Lane
    Posted Nov 3, 2006 at 11:01 PM | Permalink

    Some years ago, Australian billionaire Kerry Packer suffered a heart attack playing polo. He was eventually revived and in a grateful gesture paid to have defibrillators installed in every ambulance in NSW. To this day they are known as “packer whackers”.

    Packer, who died this year, was a larger than life character, and there are many amusing stories about him. Of his technical death on the polo field he is reported to have said: “Son, I’ve been to the other side, and there’s nothing f****** there!”

  13. Wolfgang Flamme
    Posted Nov 4, 2006 at 3:00 AM | Permalink

    Despite the presence of a defibrillator your friend must still have been very lucky:
    “While data are limited, if we assume that a shockable rhythm would exist in 25% of home SCA cases (…)”

    See also:

  14. Marlowe Johnson
    Posted Nov 6, 2006 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    I thought that all CPR did was keep the the blood oxynated and flowing. But it normally takes an AED to actually shock the heart back into beating again….

  15. Posted Nov 15, 2006 at 5:14 PM | Permalink

    During my stint as a Navy Corpsman, I was the first person on active duty to use the SAD (semi-automatic defib) unit in 1991. The devices back then were far cruder to work with and not nearly as layman friendly as the ones today. They are great devices and its good to see more locations stocking them.

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