Third Street Center most recent location
By Lynn Burton
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
You and a friend are strolling down Concourse B at Denver International Airport on a slow Thursday evening when a middle-aged German tourist named Hans falls over right in front of you – and he’s not breathing.
You and your friend do not panic. Instead, your friend rushes to grab the automated external defibrillator (AED) on the wall next to a restroom while you start hands-only CPR. Within a few minutes the two of you have literally shocked Hans’s heart back to life before paramedics arrive to speed him to the nearest hospital.
It’s doubtful that you and your friend give each other high-fives because this is the first time you’ve used the AED training provided by the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District and you’re a bit shaken up.
“You can use your training anywhere there’s an AED,” Carbondale Fire District Ambulance Co-coordinator Jake Spaulding told The Sopris Sun. “ … Marble, New York, Denver … . There are different manufacturers but they all operate the same. The training is universal.”
Spaulding himself was just coming off an AED training session for tenants at the Third Street Center, which recently received one of the backpack-sized devices. In the past few years, the fire district has also placed AEDs at the Hub in Marble, Redstone Inn, River Valley Ranch Clubhouse, Roaring Fork High School, Aspen Glen, Colorado Rocky Mountain School, the swimming pool and recreation center. Police cars are also equipped with them.
The recent hour-long AED training at the Third Street Center attracted about eight tenants who practiced chest compressions on dummy torsos and working the AED. Actually, there isn’t much working to do with the AED. “The (recorded) prompts tell you everything to do,” Spaulding said. One of the most important points to remember: You cannot accidently injure anyone with the AED because it monitors the victim’s heart and knows what do to.
Earlier this week, Spaulding reviewed for the Sun the basic steps required to save the life of someone in cardiac arrest. The process starts when someone collapses and the responder determines the victim is unresponsive. Next, the responder will instruct others to call 911. After that, the responder starts CPR by placing one hand over the other and forcefully pushing in the upper part of the chest about two inches. The pushing pumps blood from the heart to the brain so in effect, the heart is beating manually.
Next up, the AED itself. As soon as someone opens the AED, a recording starts instructing the operators what do to, based on readings it receives from the victim. The first round of resuscitation ends when two “pads” are stuck to the victim’s chest. The AED literally tells everyone “stand back” then administers an electrical shock to restart the heart. If the first shock does not produce the desired effect, the AED tells the operators to return to CPR for two minutes, at which time the AED will once again say “stand back” then administer another shock.
Spaulding said the fire district has plans to place more AEDs at public buildings. Elsewhere across the U.S., their use is spreading.
“In the future these AEDs will be a common as fire extinguishers,” said Carbondale Fire Chief Ron Leach. “When my grandkids are grown, AEDs will be installed all over the place.”