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Doctor: AED is a lifesaver, and more should be available in NH

Union Leader Correspondent

November 21. 2016 9:51PM
State Trooper Christopher Prenaveau, left, and Epping police officer Donald Ross were recognized Monday night for helping to revive Brian Nelson, center, after he went into cardiac arrest at the Epping Walmart last month. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

EPPING — An automated external defibrillator can mean the difference between life and death.

That’s why medical professionals like Exeter Hospital cardiologist Dr. Ernest Podrasky would like to see a lot more of them in public places.

The small portable device commonly known as an AED delivers a shock to the heart to restore regular heart rhythm during sudden cardiac arrest.

An AED played a critical role in reviving 58-year-old Brian Nelson of Epping when he collapsed while shopping inside the Epping Walmart on Oct. 14.

Nelson was without a pulse for about seven minutes as Walmart customer Stacie Sarra and off-duty New Hampshire State Police Trooper Christopher Prenaveau rushed to his aid to provide CPR.

The Epping Walmart doesn’t have AEDs available, but Epping police officer Donald Ross arrived and used one from his cruiser. Nelson was revived after two shocks.

The officers were recognized for their help at Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting, where they were reunited with Nelson, who has since recovered.

Nelson said he’s thankful for the quick response that day.

“My outcome could have been a lot different,” he said.

According to the American Heart Association, the chance of survival drops seven to 10 percent for every minute normal heartbeat isn’t restored, making access to an AED key to survival.

The Red Cross says all Americans should be within four minutes of an AED, which instructs users through the process.

“It’s like having a paramedic buddy sitting next to you. Any lay person with no training at all can take one of these devices and competently place it on the chest of a person who has lost consciousness. The machine does the work for you, but it needs to be available,” Podrasky said.

Mike Hall, training center coordinator at Exeter Hospital, teaches CPR and how to use an AED to staff members and the community.

He pointed to other incidents in which AEDs saved lives in recent years. In one case, a referee collapsed during a junior varsity girls’ basketball game at Raymond High School but was revived when the school’s AED was used.

Earlier this year, a 14-year-old boy was revived within two minutes when he went into cardiac arrest during a basketball game at the RIM Sports Complex in Hampton.

An AED also helped save a life at the Stratham Planet Fitness, which, like many other fitness clubs, has the device.

The AED is popping up more and more in sports facilities, schools, public buildings and businesses.

Affordable AEDs

“AEDs are inexpensive compared to a few years ago and all you need to do is follow the prompts that the machine gives you,” Hall said.

The state EMS has a program that offers AEDs at an affordable price that’s available to the public, he said.

Podrasky is encouraging communities to find ways to make AEDs more accessible in public places. For instance, he lives in Exeter and said that while it wouldn’t be practical for every downtown business to have an AED, it could be beneficial to have one located in an area where any of the businesses could access it in an emergency.

“It takes a village, so to speak,” he said.

He also encouraged people to learn basic life support to help ease their fears of using an AED and helping in a medical emergency.

“The opportunity you have to grant life back to someone is priceless,” Podrasky said.

General News Health Epping

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