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Do not forget importance of having automated external defibrillators in schools | READER COMMENTARY

An automated external defibrillator or AED like this one is vital to assisting someone who has suffered sudden cardiac arrest. File.
An automated external defibrillator or AED like this one is vital to assisting someone who has suffered sudden cardiac arrest. File.

It is always great to read a story about bystanders saving a life by performing CPR on a victim of a sudden cardiac arrest (”Duo helps save heart attack victim,” July 3). Congratulations to George Ponticello, the survivor, and to the Severna Park seniors, Jimmy Patz and Jack Peterson, who performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until the paramedics arrived eight minutes later. These saves are newsworthy because for every survivor of sudden cardiac arrest there are approximately ten victims who die.

George, Jimmy, and Jack were the beneficiaries of Breanna’s Law passed in 2015 mandating CPR and AED training as a requirement for high school graduation in Maryland. Jimmy and Jack were likely aware that CPR is now “hands only” without “mouth-to-mouth,” an important thing to know during the COVID-19 pandemic. The chances of a rescuer contracting the virus during hands-only CPR are vanishingly low and should not be a deterrent to performing CPR.

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The article barely mentions defibrillation. Since 2006, Maryland law has required automated external defibrillators in all Maryland schools. Why didn’t one of the bystanders run for the defibrillator as the boys were performing CPR? Perhaps the school building was locked? The boys’ mandated training included both CPR and AED training.

Another important point is that Mr. Ponticello did not have a “heart attack.” He had a Sudden Cardiac Arrest or SCA. Heart attack victims are conscious and do not need CPR or defibrillation whereas an SCA victim will die without timely CPR and defibrillation.

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Our organization, the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, has teamed up with like-minded groups in a national campaign called “Call, Push, Shock” to emphasize that upon witnessing a cardiac arrest to call 911, start hands-only CPR, and get the defibrillator and use it. We want to hear about more success stories like Mr. Ponticello’s.

Henry Jampel, Towson

Mary Newman, Wexford, Pa.

The writers are, respectively, board chair and president of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.

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