How You Could Save a Life at Your Facility: Part III
Friday, September 20, 2013

So far we’ve told you about Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDS) and how you can sign up for training in your facility on how to use them. We also published a short Q&A with a training instructor and NATCA member who told you about the value and ease of the training.

This month, we’re providing you with the story of a NATCA member who knows first-hand the value of being trained to use an AED. The device saved his life.

On Jan. 23, 2010, Detroit Metro TRACON (D21) NATCA member Terry Keefe’s heart abruptly stopped beating. Keefe was in his basement with his brother-in-law who frantically yelled to Keefe’s father upstairs to dial 9-1-1. When the 9-1-1 operator asked Keefe’s father and brother-in-law if Keefe’s heart was still beating, they assumed it was, so the 9-1-1 operator advised them to wait for the medics to arrive, in order for the professionals to perform CPR.

When the medics arrived, they found that Keefe’s heart had not been beating - for eight minutes. The medics shocked Keefe’s chest three times with an AED, successfully reviving him. They transported him to the hospital, where doctors gave him therapeutic hypothermia and kept him in a coma for four days, a treatment typically performed after extended periods of cardiac arrest to increase the patient’s chance of returning to normal or near normal brain function.

When doctors brought Keefe out of the coma, he miraculously returned to normal brain function.

Now, Keefe is living with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), a small device wired into Keefe’s heart that will act to keep his heart beating if he ever suffers an arrhythmia again.

Upon returning to work, Keefe immediately signed up to take the Emergency University Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) program offered for free at D21, and every other FAA facility with 50 or more employees. 

“It is so important to have that knowledge because, just like me falling over dead, it could happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime,” said Keefe. “To think that it might happen to one of my coworkers and there may be no on around who knows how to use an AED – that would be devastating.”

Keefe said signing up for the online training (part one of the two-part training) and then the class in the facility was a simple process to follow, and that not having to travel or take time-off (FAA employees receive duty time to complete the training) for either made completing the training that much easier.

“It went quickly and it was easy to follow,” said Keefe of the hands-on training class taught at FAA facilities. “We also had CPR training in our class – it was excellent to get to know the process and know the placement of your hands.”

He also emphasized how easy the AEDs are to use because the devices literally talk you through the process: how to apply it, and how and when to use it.

Keefe strongly encourages every FAA employee to take the training on how to use AEDs because he said you never know when you’re going to need to use it. 

“It’s worth the time, it’s not a hassle to take the training, and you never know when you’re going to need it,” he said. “It only takes a second for something like this to happen and you could be the person who’s there who can help, and I encourage everyone to do that. It could save somebody’s life.”

If you’re interested in becoming AED certified at your facility, take the online training, then contact your Facility Representative to find out who is your facility’s PAD point of contact in order to sign-up for the next training class at your facility. 

Quick facts about sudden cardiac arrest (SCA):
  • SCA is the leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming the lives of nearly 350,000 people per year.
  • The chances of surviving SCA decrease 10 percent for every minute between the onset of the attack and the application of an AED.
  • If a person suffers SCA, chances of survival with CPR are six to eight percent; chances of survival with an AED are 65 percent.

Previous Insider articles on this topic: How You Could Save a Life at Your Facility Part I & Part II.