The small, boxy devices used to shock stopped hearts back into blood-pumping action are more common now in Johnson County than 10 years ago, local officials said.
Automated external defibrillators, commonly called AEDs, are noticeably displayed in local schools, churches, stores and other businesses, according to Darin Hoggatt, division chief of emergency medical services for the Greenwood Fire Department.
Endress+Hauser, a company in Greenwood that makes measurement meters, and Community Church of Greenwood keep AEDs on hand in case of emergencies, officials from the organizations said. The devices are used to send an electrical shock into the bodies of people who are unconscious and have stopped breathing because of sudden heart failure.
One of those devices helped save Mike Kunczt’s life after he collapsed in May at a fitness center when his heart suddenly stopped working. The fitness center’s staff and some other gym goers rushed to help Kunczt, performing CPR and giving him an electric shock with the business’s automated external defibrillator.
The combination of medical treatment saved the Greenwood resident’s life. He could have suffered brain damage from lack of oxygen or worse but instead walked out of the hospital days later and went back to work less than a week after the incident, Kunczt said.
People such as Kunczt who have gone into cardiac arrest can’t talk, are unconscious and have stopped breathing, Hoggatt said. The AEDs detect two fatal heart rhythms and zap a heart beating in one of those rhythms to try to reset it. That help, if provided within minutes following a victim’s collapse and loss of consciousness, is what improves a person’s chances of surviving cardiac arrest, he said.
“Time is cardiac muscle,” he said.
AEDs give a cardiac arrest patient an 18 to 20 percent chance of survival when accompanied by CPR, Indianapolis firefighter Matt Bussard said.
That survival rate drops to 10 percent for cardiac arrest victims who don’t get zapped with an AED within minutes of their hearts stopping, Hoggatt said.
More businesses and churches have the devices now because of a change to Indiana law about three years ago, which allowed businesses, organizations and private individuals to begin buying the machines without a prescription or a doctor’s oversight, Hoggatt said.
The devices cost $1,500 to $2,000, and once they’re turned on and hooked up to a patient, the devices are fully automated and simple to use, Hoggatt said.
How many of the machines are in Johnson County can’t be tracked because use of the devices isn’t regulated, said Bussard, who also teaches American Heart Association CPR and first aid classes.
Residents and businesses have learned about the devices saving people’s lives and have responded by buying them, White River Township Fire Chief Jeremy Pell said.
Some churches, such as Community Church of Greenwood, bought AEDs for their facilities within the past 10 years when they opened athletic facilities, Pell said.
Franklin factories have started getting the machines in recent years, according to Chuck Ridpath, firefighter and paramedic with the Franklin Fire Department.