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Be Ready to Save A Life

Updated on November 28, 2011

Choose to Have an AED Onhand and Know How To Use It

For the past 10 or so years I have sold AEDs, and trained people on the use of these life saving devices. I have to admit, the gravity of the situation had never hit home with me until just last week. My wife and I were eating dinner out at a local steakhouse. We had just gotten our salads, and one aisle over, a man was up horsing around with another man - at least that is what I thought. Then the larger man's wife started screaming "PLEASE, SOMEONE HELP HIM, HE'S CHOKING!" I didn't think, just jumped up, ran around the aisle and grabbed the man from behind. He was standing, bent over forward and not interested in cooperating with someone who was going to save his life.

With a cooperating person, the Heimlich is relatively easy to perform. Your balled fist of your weak hand is held at the diaphragm of the choking victim with you reaching around from behind. The stronger hand holds the wrist of the weak hand, and a quick jerk inward causes a rapid burst of air to come up through the trachea (wind pipe) hoping to blow the clog out - clearing the airway.

In this case, the stronger, 200 pound man was wanting to bend over and not be helped. I saw him turning blue - I grabbed around him properly raising him way up and off his feet bouncing him on my balled fist. The first time didn't work. I did it again getting a choking, gagging cough from the victim. For him to cough or gag, he had to have breathed in. I stopped, listened and he was breathing just a little. He turned and sat down with me encouraging him to try to go slow. He did. In a few minutes, he was 100% and back to normal. I finished my salad and had a great steak with my wife. Had I not known what to do, no one else in the restaurant had responded - even calling 911 which I ordered everyone to do as I grabbed the guy to begin with.

Know What To Do

I knew what to do, and venture that many others in the restaurant also knew. But none of them moved. Why? Confidence? Fear? Whatever there motivation to not do anything, knowing what to do confidently may have moved one or two more folks to act. So at your place of business, are you training to handle these actions. Someone needs to know these quick actions just to help the folks around them. The number one thing to do - always if at all possible - call for emergency support. It takes time to get emergency responders to the scene, call them immediately!


Defibrillators work in a way that is misunderstood by most people. Everyone I have ever taught believes the shock administered by the AED restarts the heard that has stopped. Actually, what is usually happening when someone is having a heart attack, the heart is going off in an irregular pattern - often racing too fast. The defibrillator actually stops the heart allowing it to "reboot" and come back on going correctly. Only in the case of a stalled heart may it possibly cause a heart to actually reboot and start running again. This is much more unusual.

Keep this point in mind, if you can do regular CPR - which under today's guideline is no breaths but 100 pumps per minute (the pumps are probably pumping enough air into the lungs and are more important to keep blood flowing to the brain, even re-used air is 19% O2. So IF you are proficient and do the pumping like no bodies business - you have a solid 5-8% chance of saving that life. IF, however, you can get an AED on that same person within 4 minutes of the attack, you have an 85% chance of that victim recovering. Why wouldn't you have an AED at your place of business, your school, your office - and in many cases, your own car or home.

How is it that someone with a heart problem, known heart problem, doesn't have an AED in their own home? Really? They cut the grass, do the gardening, paint the walls, cook, lift, make beds, and don't have an AED in the house? Are you kidding? 4 minutes to get it to the patient, 85% chance of recovery. What isn't understood about that? Under $1,200 US for the one in the picture. Why not?

Used or refurbished AEDs.

If you went into surgery at your local hospital and the doctor was cutting out an ingrown toenail, you might not care if he had just gotten his scalpel sterilized and not replaced it with new. If he was going to do heart surgery, you'd probably opt to have new stuff for everything, right?

So just exactly where does this make sense that we save a couple hundred bucks and buy used or refurbished AEDs? Really?

Red Cross or Certified Trainingj

Sign up and take a Certified Training course for CPR. Learn how to save a life - it may be your own child, parent or spouse - learn how and then when the time comes, DO IT.

The Inventurist


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    • Deron Wagner profile image

      Deron Wagner 

      6 years ago from Southeast Asia

      This is a great reminder for everyone of things we probably all learned in high school, but many of us have forgotten.

      A few months ago, I witnessed a man choking in a restaurant and was about to help but a few others nearby jumped to his aid first. Afterwards, my wife and I both watched a review on Heimlich and CPR through some pretty decent videos on YouTube because I was concerned I actually did not remember the details. So, nice to see this post.

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 

      7 years ago from Tucson, Az

      Great Job!! And huge way to go for savng that man's life!


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