From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
UMNS# 04549-Churches invest in shocking hearts back to life
Tue, 23 Nov 2004 17:56:08 -0600
Churches invest in shocking hearts back to life
Nov. 23, 2004 News media contact: Matt Carlisle * (615) 742-5470*
NOTE: Related resources are available at http://www.umc.org.
A UMC.org Feature
By Lynne Bevan DeMichele*
The band had just finished a lively rendition of "Alexander's Ragtime Band"
at Zionsville (Ind.) United Methodist Church when Helen McKnight collapsed,
unconscious, against her 25-year-old grandson. Her heart had stopped.
Her son, Bob McKnight, was playing in the band that night when he saw his
92-year-old mother slump over against John McKnight. He raced to get the
defibrillator he knew the church had just bought. Seconds later, her heart
was beating again, shocked back into action by a doctor at the concert who
used the church's automated external defibrillator.
"The Lord's hand was really into this," Bob McKnight said. "She had never had
a heart attack.... The doctor at the emergency room said that had (we) not
had the AED, she would have died."
If no doctor had been on the scene, McKnight could have shocked his mother's
heart, since he was the first layperson at the church trained to use the new
equipment three months earlier. The church plans to have the entire staff,
youth leaders, drivers and ushers trained as well, he said. Certified AED
training is provided locally by the Red Cross and the American Heart
Association and can be completed in around three hours.
Those first moments after a heart stops are most critical for survival, and a
shock - defibrillation - should be delivered within just five minutes. The
American College of Emergency Physicians warns that every minute without it
decreases the chance of survival. After 10 minutes - less time than it takes
most ambulances to arrive - survival is highly unlikely.
Each day without warning the hearts of more than 930 Americans stop beating,
according to American Heart Association statistics. Every year, more than
250,000 people die of sudden cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital. And
up to 50,000 of those deaths could have been prevented if defibrillators were
widely available in public gathering places and people were trained to use
the equipment. That's why both the Heart Association and Red Cross encourage
the purchase of defibrillators for places where crowds gather. The devices
are portable and compact - the size of a notebook - weighing about five
pounds and costing around $1,500.
Many churches in virtually every state are heeding that call.
When Margie Martinelli began work as a parish nurse last fall at Ingomar
United Methodist Church in Franklin Park, Pa., one of her first priorities
was to buy an AED.
Regular attendance at Ingomar's Sunday worship exceeds 500, and the church
also has a preschool program for 400 kids. Because of those preschoolers, the
church bought an AED fitted with extra paddles made for use with children.
Even a little heart can stop due to anaphylactic shock from a bee sting, a
severe food allergy or even a blow to the chest, Martinelli said.
"The AED will read the heart rhythm and tell you whether the patient requires
a shock," she explained. "The machine walks you through the procedure."
With seed money from the annual conference, 18 more Central Pennsylvania
United Methodist congregations so far have started defibrillation programs.
Debbie Karns, chairman of the conference health ministries committee, wants
an AED in every church.
"It's insidious how heart disease can affect the young as well as older
people ... with no signs or symptoms," she said.
Lois Slocum, parish nurse of Christ United Methodist Church in Bethel Park,
Pa., agrees. Her church has more than 3,500 members and a schedule packed
with classes, a food ministry, adult day care and many other programs. Slocum
saw to the purchase of an AED a little more than two years ago, installing it
at the back of the sanctuary. Now 21 members, including ushers for all
services, have been trained to use it.
"With so many people coming through our door, I felt it was essential," she
said. "The biggest challenge is keeping people trained," she added. Red Cross
certification must be renewed every two years, so the church is providing a
refresher session each year.
All 50 states have defibrillator laws or regulations, and efforts are under
way in many to include defibrillators in Good Samaritan laws. That would
ensure that a responder could not be sued if he or she tried in good faith to
save the victim's life and something went wrong.
Helen McKnight's close call with sudden cardiac arrest made her a firm
believer in defibrillators.
Almost immediately after she regained consciousness in the hospital last
summer and learned what had happened, she wrote a check for the church to buy
one more defibrillator.
*DeMichele, a former communications director for the United Methodist Church
in Indiana, is a freelance writer living in Gig Harbor, Wash.
News media contact: Matt Carlisle, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5153 or
United Methodist News Service
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