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The shocking news about the passing of Tim Russert was made all the worse by the realization that he could have had a chance of survival had an AED been present and used after his collapse.ABCNews.com posted a video clip of GMA’s Diane Sawyer and Dr. Memhet Oz explaining the sudden cardiac arrest that Tim suffered and how an AED could have jumpstarted his heart.

Automated External Defibrillators do not help with heart attacks – the slower death of heart tissue, where the victim often feels terrible but is usually awake and conscious.AEDs were designed for specific incidences of sudden cardiac arrest, where the electrical pulses that run the heart get all out of sorts and the heart just starts vibrating in place, otherwise known as ventricular fibrillation. AEDs recognize the fibrillation patterns and recommends shock only in those cases.

Do You Know Where Your AED Is?

Maybe it is the safety culture here at the Lab, but I was completely shocked when I watched the video clip from above. They wandered around the halls and asked ABC staffers if they knew if an AED was on the property, where it was located, and if they knew how to use it.The answer, in a nutshell, was a resounding No to all questions.

LANL got AEDs beginning in 2000. The Wellness Center was one of two sites to pilot the Lab’s AED program, so I have been trained and kept up my AED certification since 2000. Today, my 7 story building has a total of 14 AEDs – 2 on each floor next to the stairwells and close to the break rooms.So to imagine that an organization the size of the ABC studios in New York, with all of the people that work there and the type of equipment they work with, wouldn’t have people trained in the use of AEDs or even people who know if an AED was on the premises is irresponsible at best.

Not Just for Fat, Old Guys

I heard that the Lab was introducing AEDs because The Mucky-Mucks were concerned about the aging population – some guys have been here since the late 1950s-early 1960s. But these have been used 3 times in the last 8 years that I know of, two of which I was generally involved in.

  1. A 50+ year old user at the Wellness Center was on a diet that he read about in Playboy magazine (low calorie, high exercise).After his workout, he went into the shower and promptly passed out. CPR was started, the AED was at the scene, pads applied, shock not administered.
  2. A marathon runner in his early 40’s came back to the Wellness Center after his afternoon 15-mile run, went into the weight room, sat in the chest press machine, inhaled deeply, and pushed on the bars while holding his breath (the classic valsalva maneuver). His heart stopped. CPR was started and AED pads were applied when the paramedics arrived (luckily they were on their way to the WC to workout). I had the distinct pleasure of tracking down the man’s wife in an executive meeting to tell her that her husband was about to be taken away in an ambulance.
  3. An electrician in his mid-30’s performing work on a ladder and was electrocuted. An AED was on the scene, a shock was administered successfully.

In each of these incidents, the people survived, even if the AED wasn’t “used.” It was a help to the first responders, however, knowing that there was a machine at the ready, monitoring the situation, and giving some feedback of whether or not they were on the right track. And notice, save for the first guy, we aren’t talking about overweight, middle-aged people that suffered sudden cardiac arrest. It can happen to otherwise perfectly healthy people, too.

My Recommendation: Get Training First

Even though AEDs are made to be completely dummy-proof, I would recommend training beforehand. For non-gadget people, they can be intimidating and confusing – especially in a panic situation. For non-medical people, the idea of stripping off someone’s shirt, applying sticky pads to their chest and pushing the ON/OFF button is really intimidating, much less push the SHOCK button. With this, practice and preparation helps.

Also, there are situations that you might run into that you don’t think about – what if a guy has a really hairy chest and the pads aren’t adhering right (the packs come with a disposable razor, gotta shave him)? Can they go over bras (sort of, push the straps out of the way, put the other pad lower on the ribcage – clear of the underwire)? What if someone has a pacemaker (use the AED anyway – if the person has no pulse, the pacemaker is broken so the AED shock won’t hurt)?

CPR/AED – Not Just for Strangers Anymore

I heard in one of my trainings (though I can’t find the statistics to back it up) that people perform CPR on others they know more often that the “stranger/bystander” CPR – likely because people often go into cardiac arrest when they are in familiar places (dining with friends, at a family member’s home, at work, in the gym, etc.). Take Tim Russert – he passed out surrounded by colleagues who loved and respected him, but could not save him through CPR alone.

So I encourage you to find a local chapter of the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association and sign up for CPR/AED class. Take a group of friends and make an afternoon of it.

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Today is the first day of the lunar calendar – or Chinese New Year. However, I do not personally know any Chinese. I do, however, have two great friends of mine who are Vietnamese, so we say “Chuk-mun-nam-moi” – or Happy Vietnamese New Year!

Thus begins the Year of the Rat – which is my and many of my friends zodiac sign. When the girls found out I was a Rat, Linna exlaimed, “Ooooohh! That’s good! Rat’s are really smart – the Rat won the race!” Then she started to explain the story of the Jade Emperor’s race:

Many centuries ago, the Chinese had no means to measure time. The Yellow Jade Emperor, the Emperor of Heaven, decided to arrange a contest. He invited all animals to a race on his birthday. The first 12 animals who cross the swift current river and reach the designated shore would be assigned to the 12 Zodiac Years.

The cat and the rat, who were once good friends and poor swimmers, convinced the ox to carry them across the river. Being naive, gullible, good-natured, the powerful swimmer ox agreed. As they were crossing the river, the rat was worried that the cat might win the race; so the rat pushed the cat into the river. This explains why cats hate rats, because they never forgave the rat for the incident. Right before the ox and the rat reached the shore, the rat jumped off the ox’s back and took first place in the race.

Now, I don’t know about you, but this seems sneaky and underhanded to me. Smart, maybe. But devious. This also sounds a little like Cat Propaganda – how do we know that the Rat didn’t win fair-and-square and that the Cat started all of these vicious rumors about the Rat to cover up his own athletic or motivational inadequacies? Could be a setup…

Happy New Year, everyone! Wear red, hand out money to children, eat good food, and realize that you have a second chance to restart those New Year’s Resolutions you started to blow last week!

So, I spent half the day today talking about dancing on bars — seriously. All in the name of Torts! The practice exam that we were working through was about a girl who entered a “Shake It Like Shakira” contest, sponsored by a tequila company and hosted by a local bar. Sorry to say, our ill-fated client slipped on the wet bar in her Barbie-heels and ended up (A) tearing a ligament in her knee, (B) getting a staph infection while in the hospital, and (C) losing her job because she was out for 6 weeks. Poor Barbie.

While we were working through it, all I could think of was “those were the days!” My study partner, Desiree, could talk about nothing but the great time she had in Mexico riding a mechanical bull in a dirt bar in Puerto Penasco. And my other study partner, Aaron, couldn’t figure out what to make of these two wild women he was stuck with in the very small study room reliving their glory days. Poor Aaron.

Au Revoir, Julie!

Julie Ranger (read: Zhulie Hon-zhay) is leaving on Monday. My Quebecois carpool partner will be missed. She drives like crap, which is ironic since she was pulled over on 599 for speeding (I started laughing when she called me and told me this. In a million years, I would never accuse Julie of speeding), but her cute French accent – through her many tears – convinced the sheriff that perhaps she could be forgiven her transgressions. She got off with a warning. To which Brent confirms his suspicion that all girls can get out of speeding tickets if they could just cry on command – a subtle art I have yet to master.

Anyway, my “Montrealean” friend will go home on Monday, and I will miss her. She is smart, sassy, strong, and self-assured. If I were gay, I’d totally have a girl-crush. What am I saying? I’m NOT gay, and I TOTALLY have a girl-crush! Seriously, though. People come in and out of your life for a reason, and I am glad she came into mine. Through the eyes of this French-Canadian, I have been able to see my own country in a completely different light, especially in the realms of racism, civil rights, and immigration, and I have a newfound appreciation for the space America occupies in the world. And guess what? It’s not all about us! Go figure…

3 Down, 1 to Go

I have taken 3 of my 4 exams so far. Criminal law was pretty much what I expected – lots of conspiracy, someone died. The usual. CHLP (Comparative History and Legal Perspectives) was irritating. I studied like a mad-woman, and none of it helped. It was just like taking a Philosophy exam, which Jim would have rocked! But me? Not so much. Then we had Contracts, in which my computer almost crashed. But I feel pretty cocky in Contacts, so I finished early (probably to my detriment). On Thursday, I take the dreaded Torts exam. The least comprehensive and endearing of all of my exams. Have I told you that I will never be a Personal Injury attorney? No? Well, let me tell you – I will NEVER be a personal injury attorney. Torts is the most “American” of all of the subjects I’ve studied so far. Sue people for your own stupidity — The American Way!

In a few days, 1/6th of my Law School career will be in the bag. I can’t wait!

I’ve been thinking a lot about old friends, lately. All of the people that I have lost touch with for a multitude of reasons – moving homes, moving jobs, going to back to school, leaving school, going back to school again – have influenced my life (mostly) for the better, and I miss them, but I am crap at keeping in touch.

So, now that I am starting yet another phase of my life, I am starting this blog in the hopes that I can communicate with you more regularly, and give you a way to chat with me when the mood strikes you. Be a voyuer. Be an active participant. It’s your choice.

Due to a few crazies out there that have been harassing public female bloggers in the past few months, I am keeping this blog off of the search robots for now. So, bookmark this site or keep the e-mail with the address and check in every once in a while and let me know what you are up to!