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Anaheim's Defibrillator Program Aids Heart Attack Victim

February 21, 2001|MAI TRAN and DANIEL YI | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Anaheim fire officials credited an innovative safety program that uses cardiac defibrillators and three quick-thinking city employees with saving the life of a 57-year-old heart attack victim Tuesday.

The woman, whose name was not released, collapsed and suffered a heart attack Tuesday morning at Anaheim City Hall, according to Anaheim Fire Department spokeswoman Maria Sable. The woman, a secretary, was taken to Western Medical Center, where she was in fair condition.

The woman collapsed about 10:45 a.m. and quickly turned blue in the face, employees said. Fellow workers Armando Sanchez called 911, James Getz began CPR and Edward Murdock pulled out the Automatic External Defibrillator, a portable version of the electrical shock machines used by hospitals to revive patients in cardiac arrest.

The Fire Department has been training city employees in the use of the defibrillators since April 2000 and has 65 of them deployed around city buildings, including libraries, council chambers and community centers, said Steve Phillips, program coordinator. Tuesday was the first time the training was put to use.

He believes the quick response by the employees using the defibrillator saved the woman's life, giving her an 80% chance of surviving the attack that would have been about 10% without the machine.

"There was a lot of nervous energy because I had no idea what was going to happen," said Murdock, one of three workers on the seventh floor certified on the machines. "But you just keep on going."

The digital male voice guided Murdock step by step. He placed the 6-inch-thick paddles on the woman's chest. The machine monitored her vital signs and instructed Murdock when to apply the shock.

Within minutes, paramedics arrived and took over. Murdock skipped lunch and went for a walk.

"My heart wouldn't stop pounding," he said.

Each machine costs about $3,000, but city officials say the sizable investment is a worthy one. Six hundred of Anaheim's 2,000 employees have been certified in the volunteer program, Phillips said.

Anaheim is the only municipality in Orange County that has such a program.

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