Posted by SCAFoundation on 03/17/2008
Survivor Mari Ann Wearda

Hi to all,

This morning I was driving to work when I suddenly realized that I was at the stoplight where four years ago today I narrowly escaped death. I was the victim of an SCA, and if not for the grace of God and an AED, I would not be here today.

I try not to preach (really!), but each and every one of you that I am sending this to I hold dear in my heart. I know it doesn't always happen to the other guy. I know the importance of knowing what your blood pressure and cholesterol is. I know how dangerous smoking is. I know how dangerous stress is. If you don't know these things, please find out.

I also know the importance of early access to an AED (automated external defibrillator). Chad, a Hampton policeman, had me hooked up to a Medtronic AED in about three minutes. Ninety-five of the people who have an SCA never make it to the hospital. My chances of survival would have been about 50% if it would have been five minutes....and if I would have had to wait for the ambulance that took more than 11 minutes to get there, I hope you would have all made it to my funeral.

I survived with no permanent damage to my heart. I am only telling you all this again because I really want you to be aware of your hearts and AEDs. SCA is the leading cause of death in our country. That 95% death rate could be changed to a 98% survival rate if people had early access to AEDs. There is a national movement to get AEDs in schools, churchs, health clubs, malls—wherever people gather. I hope you will all support this effort. The next time you are at your church or school, take a minute to stop and think how long it would take for help to arrive if someone collapsed from an SCA. Then think how important it would be to have an AED hanging right there on the wall. An AED that is so simple to operate a child can do it. And so inexpensive that churches and schools could raise the money with bake sales! Or, you could do like I did, search for grants and appeal to service organizations to help pay for AEDs. The sad truth is many churches and schools get an AED after someone has died, when they realize that person might have been saved. Forty-two people in this country die an hour—one every minute or two. If you have ever heard or known someone who dropped dead of a heart attack, it was probably an SCA. These lives can be saved—we have the cure.

I'm almost done preaching.

Tonight, when you are sitting across the table or beside your loved one, or ones, think for a minute what you would do if that person collapsed. Would you know what to do if their life was in your hands? Would they know what to do if you collapsed? Even if you don't take a class, know what to do. Those minutes after you call 9-1-1 and before EMS walks through the door are the most important of all. What you know can save your loved one’s life, so make sure you at least know something. Even if you don't take a class, which is something we should all do, there are some good CPR simulators on line. Please look them up.

Okay, okay, I know I did go on a bit. Thanks for reading this and being an important part of my life!

Thankful and celebrating,

- Mari Ann Wearda