Enrique was my hiking buddy. We met in the Sierra Club’s outings leader training class and went on to lead many hikes together for children and teens through the club’s Inner City Outings program.
He was a big teddy-bear-like man who loved introducing city children to photography and the wonders of the wild places that surround Los Angeles. About the same age as my son, mid to late 40s, he was a bit overweight, but worked out regularly.
We usually tried to set a moderate pace for the hikes, but often found the children tired long before we were. Except once. We hiked with a high school group that was only interested in rushing up and down the hills, leaving us in the dust. We later found out that they and their teachers were training for the LA marathon.
I don’t hike with Enrique any more. One afternoon at a gym in Hollywood, he collapsed and died in full cardiac arrest after exercising.
David, a close family friend and an avid runner, was working out recently on a gym treadmill because the weather and trail conditions where he lives were not right for outdoor running that day. As he finished his run and reached for the sanitizer spray, he also collapsed in full cardiac arrest.
Today, he is recovering in a university hospital where everyone is describing his survival as a “miracle”. David was fortunate to collapse when others were present and they were able to take measures that added greatly to his chances for survival. He has received the best possible medical care, and is now on the road to recovery.
Why were the outcomes for these two people so different? Three simple letters tell the tale: AED. You may have noticed these letters posted in public places and wondered what they were. You need to know. You also need to know how to use one if needed and how to do CPR if an AED is not available or indicates that CPR is the better choice.
An AED can be bought for less than $1500 new. If your workplace, gym, or other facility doesn’t have one, work to get one installed. If you live in a neighborhood where emergency medical assistance will take more than a few minutes to arrive, suggest to your neighborhood association that a conveniently located AED and training for residents might be a good investment.
Studies have shown a dramatic difference in survival rates where the local population has a higher rate of CPR and AED training. Classes in CPR and how to use an AED are inexpensive. They are offered all over the USA by both the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association If you take a class, be sure it is one that includes both the CPR and AED training.
Don’t wait to get trained. It really is a matter of life or death.
(Note: the names of the two victims have been changed to protect their friends and family)