Near-death experience helping save lives in NH
Matthew Keene, right, is with Craig Evans, the referee who was saved with an AED in Raymond. (Courtesy)
More on AEDsThere are more than 3,000 registered AEDs in locations across New Hampshire. Here's where the majority are:
Medical Office: 145
Nursing Home: 73
State Facility: 137
Note: Numbers are actual AED devices (often multiple devices with an agency).
Source: State Bureau of Emergency Medical Services.
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--- For more on AEDs, go to nh.gov/safety/divisions/fstems/ems/defibrillators. Or contact Bill Wood, preparedness coordinator, Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, at 223-4228 or by email at William.Wood@dos.nh.gov.
-- For information about heart screenings for youngsters ages 12 to 18, go to parentheartwatch.org.
Chris Roberge, a Lebanon High School sophomore, was listed in fair condition Friday at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. He had been airlifted there a week earlier after school personnel and bystanders in the Hopkinton school gym used CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED) to restart the teen's heart after he was stricken.
The good news, according to Bill Wood, AED project coordinator for the state Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, is that every public school in the state - and the "vast majority" of private schools - have AEDs. Many schools have multiple AEDs, so they can be available in different buildings or carried along to athletic events, Wood said.
"They should be just like fire extinguishers," he said.
The teenager and his parents, Russell and Edwina Keene of Berlin, became advocates for making AEDs mandatory in New Hampshire schools. Keene even took his message to Washington, D.C., in 2007.
And when a referee collapsed during a basketball game in Raymond three years ago, the defibrillator used to save the man's life was the very first AED purchased and donated by Matt's Mission.
Most cases of cardiac arrest are caused by something called ventricular fibrillation, a cardiac rhythm problem that causes the heart chambers to quiver so the heart pumps little or no blood, according to the American Heart Association. The treatment for this "v-fib" is defibrillation, an electrical shock to the heart, which causes it to resume its normal rhythm.
Noting 300,000 adults die each year from cardiac arrest, Wood said having immediate access to an AED could save some of those lives.
After someone's heart stops beating, Wood said, every minute that passes cuts survival chances by 10 percent. "Time is tissue," he said. "If somebody can defibrillate somebody within the first minutes, even before EMS can get there, the chance of survival is that much greater.
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