Everyone who has ever seen a medical drama on television knows the scene: a patient who collapsed from heart failure is rushed to the emergency room, where a doctor picks up defibrillator paddles, squirts some conductive gel on the patient’s chest, and yells “CLEAR!” Then, once everyone’s hands are free of the patient, the doctor presses the paddles to the patient’s chest and administers an electric shock straight to the patient’s chest, in order to hopefully shock the patient’s heart back into beating on its own. It’s a familiar scene that only takes place in hospitals, with the medical equipment in the hands of a licensed doctor, and with danger hanging in the air.
Not any more.¬
Medical news is buzzing about the proliferation of electronic defibrillator devices, as compact versions of this cornerstone of first-response medical equipment find themselves everywhere from malls to school hallways. Even airplanes have installed this compact medical equipment in their cockpits and cabins, and trained flight attendants in their use. Since the window of opportunity to revive a patient with heart failure is so small, the benefits of training laymen to use potentially dangerous equipment far outweighs the risks, especially in isolated places far away from proper medical care, such as airplanes, or places where the patient may have a smaller, weaker circulatory system, such as in schools.
One of the most interesting facts making the medical news about compact electronic defibrillator devices is the device’s reduced risk to the user in comparison to the larger electronic defibrillating devices. Since the devices are more compact, it’s easier to place the paddles properly, without self-injury or injury to others. Specialized classes are popping up all over the country to teach people with little or no formal medical training how to properly use this medical equipment to save lives, and medical news predicts that electronic defibrillator training may become just as prevalent as CPR certification is today.
Regardless of whether the medical drama staple of the fruitless defibrillator scene becomes a mere memory thanks to the widespread training and use of compact defibrillator devices by laymen, one thing is clear: the democratization of valuable medical training and equipment goes much farther than simply making medical news: as with all widespread breakthroughs, it is making medical history.