Posted by Bob Trenkamp on 02/07/2012

Automated external defibrillator helps revive woman at Duluth airport
Bystanders used an automated external defibrillator and CPR to revive a woman who collapsed at Duluth International Airport on Sunday afternoon.
By: Steve Kuchera, Duluth News Tribune

The woman was waiting to go through security when she collapsed. Bystanders, including a nurse, couldn’t find a pulse or sign of breathing. A Transportation Security Administration supervisor ran to get one of the terminal’s automated external defibrillators.

AEDs are portable devices that, when attached to a patient, automatically
detect whether the person’s heart is beating irregularly. If so, the device instructs the user to administer an electric shock, which can spur an irregularly beating heart back into a normal, effective beat.

The nurse administered at least one shock and performed CPR until the woman became responsive.
When members of the full-time 148th Air National Guard Fire Department arrived on the scene, the victim was suffering a small seizure. The firefighters established an airway, gave her oxygen and stabilized her. After a few minutes, Duluth Fire Department personnel arrived to help until Gold Cross Ambulance came to transport the woman to Essentia Health St. Mary’s Medical Center.

None of the agencies interviewed had recorded the patient’s name, so her condition could not be determined.

“I heard last night that she was doing fine,” Wade Boyat, the 148th’s assistant fire chief, said. “She had a stent put in her chest, and she was doing very well.” A stent is an artificial tube commonly inserted in coronary arteries to increase the flow of blood around the heart.

The response to the medical emergency was a great combination of work between Air National Guard Fire, Duluth Fire, Gold Cross and the TSA, he said.

He also praised the response of bystanders and the presence of AEDs in the terminal.

“The community is aware that AEDs are all over now,” Boyat said. “And they have become so user-friendly, people are comfortable using them. And when somebody feels comfortable using a machine like that, they are more secure in themselves to actually work on someone who might need help.”

The Duluth International Airport installed AEDs several years ago. As far as airport executive director Brian Ryks knows, Sunday was the first time one was used.

“Obviously it was a good thing we had one there,” he said, “because who knows what the outcome would have been if we didn’t have it.”