The importance of AEDs, how they can save a life

NEW YORK – Automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, are now required at schools and athletic events in 14 states. 

The devices are designed to bring a heart back into rhythm after sudden cardiac arrest, a condition where the heart is just quivering, and not pumping blood. 

A prompt medical response nearly doubles the likelihood of survival among athletes who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest during exercise, according to a University of Washington study. Luckily, Texas is one of the states where at least one AED must be located on every campus (including elementary, junior high and high school) and they must be present at every school contest or sports event.

It's proven to save lives in our state and across the country.

Lynette Messina is head coach of the Garfield High School Boilermakers.

Freshman Gabriela Koziol had just joined the squad. But on the first day of after-school practices last fall, things went wrong.

“They were doing a run," said Coach, Lynette Messina. "When they got to the other side, Gabby collapsed." 

“I just remember hearing the goalie scream after I fell,” said Gabby.

Messina and her assistant coach were on the other end of the field.

“I had him run back to grab the AED," Messina said, "I started CPR, and he called 911.” 

In all her years of coaching, Messina always had the AED within quick reach, as mandated by New Jersey law, but never had to pull it out in a life-or-death situation.

The device “talks” users through the delivery of a shock to the heart. The AED applied only one shock to Gabby’s heart.

Barry Love, MD, Children’s Heart Center at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital, says, “With the application of the shock, it put the heart back into normal rhythm which restored normal output of the heart and normal perfusion and gabby woke up almost immediately.”

Love implanted this tiny defibrillator inside the teen to help start her heart if it arrested again. 

“I would say it’s like her having her own guardian angel,” stated Love.

“If I could get back on the field, I would really love to. I’d just want to play goalie again,” Gabby exclaimed.

With one seldom used back-up ever-present on the bench.  

In addition to the 14 states that mandate the AEDs at schools, there are now 38 states requiring students to learn how to perform CPR. 

Here in Texas, all coaches, nurses, pe teachers, band directors, cheerleader sponsors, and student trainers maintain current certification in CPR and AED.