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Medical best practice saves lives

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The television is on and sounds of a busy hospital emergency room fill the living room. Doctors in white coats rush around trying to save a bloody man suffering from some sort of post-accident shock and his heart stops. The lead doctor pulls out the metal paddles and yells, "CLEAR!" He shocks the patient's heart back into rhythm, saving the man's life and the show ends.

"Hey, I could do that!" one might think to themselves while watching the effortless skill of the television doctor.

The answer is no, it's not as simple as it seems on television, but rest assured that Schriever has formulated a public access defibrillator program plan to make saving a victim of cardiac arrest simpler.

On Nov. 13, 2000 former President Bill Clinton signed the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act of 2000 into law. Also, it implemented a law protecting the good samaritan who helps the person in need from a civil lawsuit.

Schriever officials quickly responded to the CASA bill signing by implementing the public access defibrillator program here to CASA standard in 2008, but they soon realized they could do even better than the standard.

"Schriever's PAD program exceeds the national guidelines and requirements because the program includes all the required elements and additionally offers other elements," said Maj. Jane Free, 21st Medical Group Education and Training chief and 21 SW PAD coordinator. "We also offer templates, the use of badges, on-site and off-site training, mock exercises, recognition of traumatic responses, a formal process for units requesting to start a new PAD program, etc."

These PADs are located at the main and annex gym and in the fitness assessment cell. Organizations implementing a PAD program must use standard templates and tools in order for emergency response to be optimally effective.

"Schriever's PAD program exceeds the national guidelines and requirements because the program includes all the required elements and additionally offers other elements like the development of unit self-inspection checklist to be performed twice a year and a 31-point inspection checklist which is utilized during monthly site-visits," said Free.

The "above and beyond" local mentality concerning the PAD program hasn't gone unnoticed by Air Force leadership.

"This program sets itself apart from other public access defibrillation programs because the requirements for the program exceed the national minimal requirements and the responders far exceed the response time of emergency management services, improving survival rate," said Lt. Col. Simona Allen, 50th Space Wing PAD program coordinator. "The PAD program at Peterson Air Force Base's 21st Space Wing and the 50 SW was the 'first of its kind' saving thousands of dollars annually per installation. Because of this PAD program, individuals have the greatest chance of survival should these life-saving devices ever be needed. The 21 SW PAD program received the Air Force Best Practice in 2010."

The PAD program strategically places AEDs in high traffic areas so they can be easily grabbed and taken to the emergency.

"Targeted responders and individuals who have successfully completed a Basic Life Support training course in the operation of an AED, approved by the American Heart Association, are authorized to use the AEDs on base," Allen said. "AEDs are reasonably easy to use but they should be used only by persons who have received proper AED training, education and certification. 'Public access' refers to the accessibility of the AED device itself. 'Public access' does not mean that anyone who witnesses a person in cardiac arrest should use an AED to treat that person."

Though using an AED may not be as glamorous as some television programs depict, Schriever's PAD program works to ensure the outcome has a happy ending.

"According to the National Center for Early Defibrillation, sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, claiming 250,000 to 450,000 lives each year," said Allen. "Few medical interventions are as inexpensive to implement and successful at saving lives as early defibrillation."