Shock to the Heart

Defibrillators.  In the U.S., they are found in nearly every public location.  Walmart, shopping malls, airports and even sports arenas all have these devices for the treatment of cardiac arrest.  Until a few weeks ago, our 300+ bed hospital here did not have a single defibrillator.  Pause for effect…

Additionally, only a few of the interns had heard of Basic Life Support (BLS) or Advance Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and none of them had ever received formal training in either of these.   (To the non-medical community, BLS and ACLS are effective means of providing CPR to an individual who has stopped breathing or whose heart has stopped beating.)  Thus, last week, we taught 16 hungry learners how to perform chest compressions, administer correct medications, manage airways and recognize abnormal cardiac rhythms.  It was amazing to see how eager they were to learn these new skills. 

In the middle of the second group’s BLS/ACLS workshop, the Resident on internal medicine burst into the classroom, and yelled “Where’s the defibrillator!?”  Someone pointed to its location beside the CPR manikin, and the Resident grabbed it and ran.  A young woman on the ward had collapsed at the bedside.  When the Resident returned to the collapsed woman equipped with the defibrillator, he found the Intern doing chest compressions just as he had learned only days before.  The Resident placed the defibrillator pads and quickly recognized ventricular fibrillation.  Shock advised!!!  The surge of electricity converted the disorganized fibrillations back into a regular, life-sustaining rhythm and the woman's pulse returned.  Success!  Immediate return on investment, and immediate improvement in the standard of care.  Praise God!

If this situation would have occurred just a few days earlier, the outcome would have most likely been different.   Already the Lord is using a donated defibrillator, passionate teachers and hungry learners to improve the overall quality of healthcare here.  That is not only exciting, but also life giving to everyone involved.

Until next time…

Jason teaching a group of interns BLS/ACLS.

Jason teaching a group of interns BLS/ACLS.