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New Emergency Tool Drastically Improves Heart Attack Survival Rate

Last week's Santee Health Network meeting featured a presentation on AEDs, a device that recently saved a Santana teacher's life.

If you had a heart attack at Lindbergh Field before automated external defibrillators (AED) were installed you had a four percent chance at surviving- now your chances are boosted to 75 percent.

Santee firefighter/paramedic Larry Buquet, gave a demonstration of this AED technology at last week's Santee Health Network meeting, and said he wants them to be as common as fire extinguishers.

"Bystander CPR and electricity are really saving lives these days," said Buquet.

Recently, a Santana High School teacher went into cardiac arrest and an AED was used to save his life. He had a heart attack while he was teaching a class, students started CPR on him, and the school nurse and resource officer used the AED to revive him. By the time paramedics got there he was breathing and talking, and only spent a few days in the hospital.

A lot of local lives could be saved, especially since Santee has a 21.6 percent higher rate of heart disease than the average for San Diego County.

The device, which came into public use about five years ago, is about the size of a tape recorder and is so easy to use that an eight year old is able to operate it on the first try. The machine even talks to you and tells you what to do.

In Santee, schools have had them installed, YMCA, 24 Hour Fitness, City Hall, many businesses, even churches- Guardian Angels, Pathways, and Sonrise all have had them installed.

A man at the local YMCA recently had a heart attack on treadmill, staff used an AED and got his pulse rate back before paramedics arrived.

San Diego Project Heartbeat is an organization that helps subsidize the cost of purchasing and installing an AED. They'll pay about half the cost (an AED costs about $2,000) maintain it, and replace batteries when needed.

The Santee Firefighters Association pancake breakfast funds in years past went to AED program helping fund local installations of AEDs.

Buquet said someone using the device should first perform mouth-free CPR, "priming the pump," and then defibrillate and pump to the beat of staying alive, about 100 beats a minute.

Learn more about the Santee Health Network

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