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Importance of AED & CPR training for schools, communities | Family First with FOX43

Experts say AEDs should be immediately available during school and community events, and on and off sports fields.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — You never know the importance of knowing how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) or being trained in CPR until the moment arises.

Colby Mast is a healthy teenager now, but in first grade while simply walking across his classroom, he suffered sudden cardiac arrest.

According to the Nationwide Children's Hospital, if it were not for the immediate actions of his teachers utilizing an AED and administering CPR, Mast may not have survived.

“They’re the reason why I have him back today and back to himself,” said Amber Vincent, Colby’s mom, via a press release. “He really didn’t suffer any long-term consequences from anything because he didn’t have brain damage, because he had so much support right away.”

Mast underwent heart surgery at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. A year after his procedure, he was allowed to return to normal physicial activities, including football.

“The first game that he got to run out on the field with his high school team, I was hysterically sobbing,” Vincent said via press release. “It’s just so cool to see him live through what he’s lived through, and then get to do the things that he loves.”

 While sudden cardiac arrest is rare, it can happen to anyone at any time – including children, non-athletes and healthy individuals. Educating people to act swiftly and use an AED when they witness medical emergencies can help save lives. The AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses potentially life-threatening heart rhythms and delivers a shock only if necessary.

“The most common misconceptions about AEDs are that they are difficult to use and that they could cause harm. An AED will not deliver a shock if one is not necessary, and all you need to know how to do is take it off the wall and turn it on. It will do the rest,” said Dr. Naomi Kertesz, director of electrophysiology and pacing at The Heart Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “With sudden cardiac arrest, you have two to five minutes from the time a person collapses to the moment the AED fires to make sure permanent damage is avoided. You will not do harm by using an AED – you can save a life.”

During Heart Month this February, experts at Nationwide Children’s want to emphasize the importance of AED and CPR training in schools and local communities. Each year, there are more than 350,000 sudden cardiac arrests outside of a hospital setting in the United States, affecting those of any age.

Experts say AEDs should be immediately available during school and community events, and on and off sports fields. Staff should know how to use an AED and perform high-quality CPR.

Survival rates increase significantly when AEDs are actively used. According to existing research, of the entire population, in people younger than 35 years old who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, 48% survived. If CPR was performed, survival increased to 78%, and if an AED was placed and used, the survival rate was 89%

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