I received this bit of spam in my email today, a link to heartrescuenow.com. It is an interactive piece about the AED (Automated External Defibrillator)1. Your goal is to save the man having a heart-attack. I applaud this article for its interactive modality and hopefully accurate and useful information about such stands that could appear in public spots (I'm guessing airport or mall in the video). From the HeartRescue website we read,

Initiated and funded by the Medtronic Foundation2, the HeartRescue project is designed to improve how SCA (Sudden Cardiac Arrest) is recognized, treated and measured in the United States.
Since they do use the term Sudden Cardiac Arrest, I will now take the time to dispel that little piece of Hollywood claptrap about the defibrillator3. Remember, AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator.

The reason why this is such a good message to spread around is that it emphasizes the speed in which you have to act. Getting the AED to the patient quickly and using it can save their lives. In movies/TV, that whole scene where we hear the doctors yell "CLEAR!" at the top of their lungs, even though it's a small enclosed space with people two feet away from him/her, proceeds to shock the patient back to life. Just in time. I was going to kill myself if I had to listen to that BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP for much longer, which indicated to me as the viewer that this patient's heart has stopped. It's a cultural staple, and based on bullshit. Defibs don't work like that. They are not magical "bring-you-back-to-life" machines. Now, if someone were dead and I had a defibrillator on hand, who's to say that I wouldn't try shocking them? It isn't going to make the patient any deader, unless EMS is on the way and then, WTF are you doing? You've done your small part and maybe it will be enough. Relax and let the adrenaline be slowly collected back into your body.


Cracked is a humor magazine, that while brilliant at times, tends to be a bit juvenile. I love it.3
Check out #6 (though it's the first one on the page) In summary, the whole article is going over some of the life-saving techniques that doctors use on shows and movies all the time that would actually kill were they used in the manner shown. Pretty funny stuff actually. Generally we, as the average viewing populace would probably yell at our doctors to try that one technique they saw on House. Dammit, he's a genius who plays a crippled-American doctor on TV, and he can speak with an American accent, flawlessly. Listen to what he says! My son has Lupus! It's never Lupus. But then, I would guess that this is one of the reasons that friends and family are separated from their loved ones during surgery and diagnostics.

And then of course there is the dry stuff (boo!). I would feel irresponsible not including it.

From Wikipedia.org:

Defibrillation is a common treatment for life-threatening cardiac dysrhythmias (this is the key word), ventricular fibrillation, and pulseless ventricular tachycardia. Defibrillation consists of delivering a therapeutic dose of electrical energy to the affected heart with a device called a defibrillator. This depolarizes a critical mass of the heart muscle, terminates the dysrhythmia, and allows normal sinus rhythm to be reestablished by the body's natural pacemaker, in the sinoatrial node of the heart. Defibrillators can be external, trans-venous, or implanted, depending on the type of device used or needed. Some external units, known as automated external defibrillators (AEDs), automate the diagnosis of treatable rhythms, meaning that lay responders or bystanders are able to use them successfully with little, or in some cases no training at all.

In summary, a defibrillator is used to get your heart, that is already beating, if a bit irregularly, back on track. It does not shock a dead human heart into starting.

Now that would be funny and ironic. A death row prisoner dies of fear (cardiac arrest) on his way to the chair. They sit and strap him down. After a moment's hesitation, they flip the switch. Oh no! Suddenly the prisoner is alive and well. Saved by the electric chair, as it were. Sorry, my delivery is off. I'm no Pryor or Murphy.

I must find an AED stand
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automated_external_defibrillator
2. http://www.medtronic.com/foundation/
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defibrillation
4. http://www.cracked.com/article/18363_6-life-s aving-techniques-from-movies-that-can-kill-you/

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