Many people would assume that firehouses are among the safest workplaces around. However, last year, one veteran firefighter with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) noted that the building where he worked in Queens had no automated external defibrillator (AED). He believed it should, so he submitted a request to management and the AED was installed.
Several months later, in September, that AED likely saved his life. The 63-year-old firefighter went into cardiac arrest. His colleagues used the AED to resuscitate him and then got him to the hospital.
The 36-year FDNY veteran now has his own defibrillator implanted in his chest to monitor his heart.
A doctor with New York-Presbyterian Queens, where the defibrillator was implanted, says the firefighter was one of "a subset of patients who have cardiac arrest without known cause. He added, "When a person has cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting, the survival rate is very low." That's why, he says, "In a perfect world, we would have AEDs in as many places as possible,"
Now the firefighter wants to get out the word that more workplaces should have AEDs because they can save lives. Of course, workplaces and other properties that have them also need to train people to be able to use them correctly if and when they're needed, and they need to be properly maintained. Further, everyone should know where they're located so that they can be easily accessed.
You don't have to do strenuous work like fighting fires to suffer cardiac arrest. It can happen to people at any time without warning. If you believe that your workplace is lacking important safety equipment like AEDs, talk to someone in management. It's also a good idea to know what safety equipment is required by law in your workplace.