CPR and AEDs are a life-saving combination - Cape Cod Healthcare

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Published on October 02, 2017

CPR and AEDs are a life-saving combination

Most people don’t think of summer as a time for learning, but an ER doctor thinks an incident on a Cape Cod beach is an important lesson for everyone.

“Here is a perfect story to highlight why knowing CPR is a benefit to the community,” said Jacob Crowell, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Cape Cod Hospital.

On July 6, a healthy 74-year-old man was walking along Mayflower Beach in Dennis when he suddenly collapsed.

“There happened to be an off-duty firefighter from off-Cape right behind him, who initiated immediate CPR, doing compressions only,” said Dr. Crowell. “Anyone who’s trained in CPR could have provided that care.”

Police officers responded quickly and deployed their AED (automated external defibrillator), according to Crowell.

“By the time, fire department personnel arrived, the patient had a pulse and was starting to breathe on his own.”

The patient, who had no previous coronary history, was taken by ambulance to Cape Cod Hospital.

“He was admitted to the cardiac unit and stayed for about nine days, with tests and multiple cardiac procedures, and was discharged to a rehabilitation hospital,” said Dr. Crowell. “He had outpatient cardiology visits scheduled in August, so I assume he is home and doing well at this point.

“It’s rare without immediate bystander CPR and early defibrillation that we have an outcome where the patient walks out of the hospital. That’s the reason that I bring this people’s attention.”

Everyone Should Be Trained

Early, high-quality compressions and early defibrillation are the two factors that increase the odds for survival from cardiac arrest, according to Crowell.

“Everyone in the community should be trained in CPR,” he said.

Resources for CPR training, he said, include the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross and Cape Cod CPR & First Aid Training (a private company).

“People who’ve been trained with layperson’s CPR sometimes have reluctance to deliver rescue breaths without proper equipment, because they fear they could be exposed to communicable diseases,” he said. “The current American Heart Association guidelines on bystander CPR actually include no delivery of rescue breaths and involve delivery of chest compression and, if possible, defibrillation.”

AEDs are now standard equipment in most police vehicles, he said.

“The towns have made investments in outfitting police vehicles and some municipal vehicles with AEDs.”

That’s a lifesaver, he said because police cars go faster than ambulances and are deployed throughout a community, so they’re usually much closer to an incident.

“The Mayflower story is a reminder that training in basic CPR and the use of the AED makes a huge difference in survivability,” he said.