Defibrillator Saves a Child

December 02, 2009 2:00 AM

Nov. 18 — To the Editor:

Having the knowledge and skills to help someone in crisis is the greatest gift we can give to our families and communities. Every once in a while, a story comes along that reminds us it is important to be adequately trained to respond when help is critically needed.

One such story in the local media reported that a school nurse in Milford recently saved the life of a 16-year-old boy who collapsed from a sudden heart problem. She used an automated external defibrillator and CPR chest compressions. Her training in the appropriate use of CPR and the defibrillator, and the presence of a defibrillator device on the site, were major factors in creating this happy ending.

According to the American Red Cross, about 250,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest each year in the United States.

Most causes of sudden cardiac arrest in children and infants are brought on by airway problems, breathing difficulties, traumatic injuries from an accident, heart disease, or even sudden infant death syndrome. A defibrillator can be used on children of 8 years or older or 55 pounds or more. Each minute that defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival for the victim is reduced by 10 percent.

The mission of the American Red Cross automated external defibrillator program is to save lives by promoting and encouraging public use of defibrillators along with CPR. The Red Cross provides the training and can facilitate the purchase of defibrillator devices so that all Americans can be within four minutes of a defibrillator and someone trained to use it. The Red Cross chapters in New Hampshire provide training in use of CPR and defibrillator for cases involving adults, children and infants.

Is there at least one person in your household, school or business who is trained in the use of CPR and a defibrillator? Do you have ready access to a defibrillator device at work or school? If you answered no to either of these questions, the American Red Cross can help. For information on purchasing a defibrillator and getting trained in CPR and defibrillator use, contact your local chapter of the Red Cross. You can find information on New Hampshire chapters at, or by calling the N.H. regional office at (800) 464-6692.

Maybe next time, you will be the person who can help to create a happy ending.

Maria White

N.H. regional executive director

American Red Cross, Concord

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