KMC installs lifesaving cardiac defibrillators for public access

Maj. Artemio Chapa
435th Medical Operations Squadron

KMC members will have a better chance of surviving a cardiac arrest after the last of 16 automatic external defibrillators was installed Feb. 9.

The AEDs are part of U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s new public access defibrillation program, which trains site coordinators and targeted responders to recognize a cardiac emergency and use the device to shock the heart into a regular rhythm.

The Cardiac Arrest Survival Act of 2000 directed that AEDs be installed in federal and military installation buildings.

In the KMC, the AEDs are located where large groups of people congregate, including commissaries, fitness centers and base exchanges, the Ramstein Golf Course, the Ramstein Officers’ Club, the Ramstein Enlisted Club, the Sembach Consolidated Club and the passenger terminal.

Each location has a designated site coordinator who is responsible for the AED and targeted responders, both who have been trained in its use.

Last year, the 435th Medical Group trained more than 2,500 rescuers in CPR, including how to operate and use an AED, said Staff Sgt. Peggy Shaskan, 435th MDG Basic Life Support Program director.

“AEDs are very safe and easy to use; making it possible for non-medical personnel to easily provide rapid defibrillation – a device that once was only used by trained healthcare professionals,” said Sergeant Shaskan.

Defibrillation is the only known treatment to restore the normal rhythm during a cardiac arrest. For every minute defibrillation is delayed, the victim’s chances of survival decrease 7 to 10 percent, according to the American Heart Association.

The AHA estimates that 220,000 people suffer cardiac arrest and only about 5 percent of them survive. It predicts that up to 100,000 deaths a year could be prevented if access to AEDs is broadened. USAFE predicts two cardiac events in the commands active-duty population per year, said Sergeant Shaskan.