AEDs are life-saving instruments that should be everywhere.  Here are some of the people whose lives were saved by an AED in December and the early days of January.

Tuscaloosa, AL - Amanda Travathan Cox , 17, collapsed at school. She started feeling light headed and dizzy while seeing sunspots – she knew she was fainting. She had a congenital heart problem, a slight arrhythmia that caused her to go into ventricular fibrillation, which was an electrical malfunction of the heart that made her go into sudden cardiac arrest.  Principal Bob Lavett came running with the AED in hand and applied electrical shocks to get her heart beat going again. (Dec 17)

Little Falls, MN – Kyle Bednar, 17, didn’t remember graduating because he suffered memory loss, which is a side effect of ventricular fibrillation (when the heart goes into an erratic arrhythmia). It was his graduation night and party, and he decided to ride a mechanical bull when he slumped over and fell off.  His mother, who was chaperoning and was also a nurse, came running and started doing chest compression and mouth-to-mouth.  Another chaperone went running to get the AED from the gym, which was used to restart an effective heart rhythm. He was put into a medically induced coma to prevent brain swelling which could cause brain damage and memory loss. Doctors slowly brought Bednar out of the coma after two days. While he suffered some memory loss, most came back after a few days. Even though his mother was instrumental to his survival, it was the AED that was vital component in saving his life. (Dec 31)

Times Square, NY – Scottish tourist, Alan Black, 56, went into full cardiac arrest while in his cab. His girlfriend pulled him out of the cab and started doing chest pumps. The taxi driver waived down 5 cops who were nearby collecting wooden barriers used during New Year’s Eve celebration. It was Officer Xhoana Tozaj who first started administering CPR before Officer David Basquez and Matthew Widmer came over and assisted with chest compressions. Officer William Helbock and Timothy Landy arrived shortly after with an AED and applied it having the second shock restart his heart. (Jan 4)

Atlanta, GA – John Helig, 66, was at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport when he suffered sudden cardiac arrest. Luckily for him, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent, Officer John Seebode was there to start applying CPR. Other agents rushed to get the AED. They shocked him numerous times to stabilize his heart rhythm. At the hospital, Dr. Chandan Devireddy did an angioplasty and implanted a stent because one of Helig’s three main coronary arteries was completely blocked. Four days later, he suffered another cardiac arrest. Devireddy and his team resuscitated him and successfully opened a clot that had closed the stent suddenly. He is alive because of the quick thinking of Officer Seebode and the application of the AED. (Dec 11)

Salem, MA – A substitute teacher at Salem High School collapsed and was not breathing. Two nurses were applying CPR and he was hooked up to an AED. The first shock did the trick and started up his heart rhythm. It wasn’t over yet though. He suffered another massive heart attack while being moved to the ambulance. The professional EMTs hooked him up to the equipment and administered some drugs and got everything under control. Public information officer for the fire department, Richard Thomas, praised the students and staff of the high school for saving the man’s life by using the AED. (Dec 18)

Downs, IL – Family physician, Bill Neil, 59, was exercising when he suffered sudden cardiac arrest. Mary Beth Burger, a nurse and also a gym member, who was certified in CPR and AED use, sprung to help. Mikey Shea, the Four Season’s manager on duty, got the AED and took over chest compressions while Burger continued rescue breaths. Doing four rounds of CPR and AED defibrillation restarted his heart but it was a weak, irregular, fluttery pulse. The paramedics took over when they arrived.  The outlook was grim thought Burger. Apparently, Neil had ventricular fibrillation caused by a mitral valve abnormality. He wants people to get trained in CPR and AED use because he knows it saved his life.

AEDs are becoming more popular and the aforementioned stories show how important they are to surviving sudden cardiac arrest. Being trained and aware of AEDs is a small step that can make a difference in saving someone’s life.