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Mari Ann's Story continued...

Tom Craighton, EMS Manager at Franklin General Hospital, applied for a grant that was equally matched by the Franklin County Supervisors to purchase ten Medtronic Lifepak 500 AED'S. Craighton said that it only made sense for law enforcement officers to carry the lifesaving devices since they are the first to respond to an emergency call.

I was the first person in Franklin County to be saved with one of the new defibrillators. Chad Elness, an officer with the Hampton Police Department for two years, was doing paper work that day at the police station.

At 11:38 a.m., the first of two, almost simultaneous, 911 calls came in. Chad said he responded with lights, sirens and the feeling that a one-vehicle accident at that time of the day was a medical emergency.

The police log shows that at 11:40 he arrived at the scene. He said I was slumped in my seat with my eyes half-open. I wasn’t breathing and he described my pulse as “thready.” He said I was as blue as the shirt of his police uniform.

I was pulled out of my vehicle and laid flat on the ground.

The Lifepak saves information and it can later be downloaded to a computer for a printout. It showed that at 11:41 a.m., the defibrillator was turned on.

At 11:42 a.m., Chad pushed the button that sent a total of 200 joules of electricity from one electrode pad, through my heart, to the other pad.

It was one of two shocks that my heart required. Chad explained that between the shocks he was prompted by the machine to perform CPR. At 11:52, just eleven minutes after it was first turned on, the Lifepak was turned off. I was loaded in the ambulance and taken to Franklin General Hospital to meet the Air Life Helicopter for a ten minute ride to Mercy Hospital in Mason City, which has a cardiac unit rated one of the top 50 in the country.

A week later I was back home. My doctor assured me there was no permanent damage and with certain healthy changes it shouldn't happen again. I can't imagine anywhere where there are more concerned or skilled doctors and nurses then in the cardiac unit at Mercy Hospital.

But first I had to get there. I know how lucky I am. Only about 5% of the people who experience SCA ever make it to the hospital.

There is a national movement to put AED's in the hands of law enforcement officers and in schools and other large public facilities. With AED’s thousands of lives could be saved. I know. I am proof that sudden cardiac arrest can be reversed.

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