Shot Through the Heart, And You’re to Blame (Hopefully)

What if someone dropped, right in front of you, of cardiac arrest? Naturally you’d want to save them if you could.

The increased numbers of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public places are making that easier. If used quickly, these mini-machines can improve the odds of someone’s surviving cardiac arrest by up to 30%.

But for many of us, the idea of operating a sophisticated, two-thousand-dollar high-tech lifesaving device – without a medical degree – is kind of intimidating. Could you do it? Would you freeze? Me, I’d worry that instead of bringing the person back from the brink of death, I’d end up electrocuting all rubberneckers within a ten-foot radius.

Here’s where a bit of role-playing comes in handy.

Check out the HeartRescue Project. With this interactive website, you become the passerby who calls 911 and applies electrified pads to an unresponsive stranger’s chest. And guess what? Your quick thinking ends up reviving the guy. I tried it, and found it helpful. And a comfort. I could probably do this.

In Canada, it’s recommended that defibrillators be used only by folks who have both the training and the authorization to use the machines. A few individual provinces go so far as to regulate the use of AEDs. So make sure you know what’s allowed in your jurisdiction, before you pick up the paddles. Better yet, take a CPR course, where you’ll be taught how to use an AED in case of emergency.

As they say, have a heart.

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