Seminars to Explain Use of Heart Equipment
By Jeanne Ridgway
The Courier Post | February 3, 2007
When Sandy Gips was in high school, a heart attack took the life of his 17-year-old buddy.
Now Gips, a Haddon Heights cardiologist, is holding free public seminars to teach South Jersey residents about the benefits of automated external defibrillators — also called AEDs.
AEDs are a type of cardiac defibrillator that allow ordinary people to save lives during cardiac emergencies.
Each year, 335,000 U.S. citizens die of sudden cardiac arrest, killing more individuals than breast cancer, AIDS and traffic accidents combined.
Dr. Sandy Gips (left) and Forrest Robleto of Cooper Hospital observe and give instruction to Jeannette Lybeert of Burlington County as she practices using an AED on a dummy.
“I want AEDs to become as common as fire extinguishers and smoke detectors,” said Gips, 43, who is a partner with Cardiovascular Associates of the Delaware Valley, here. “I want them to be universal pieces of equipment in people’s homes.”
AEDs analyze the heart’s electrical function and provide a brief, powerful electrical impulse. The stimulation interrupts the heart’s abnormal rhythm and helps restore its natural rhythm.
Gips and his cardiology group are presenting Save A Life, an educational program about how to respond in a heart attack emergency. The program also encourages local groups such as schools, gymnasiums, sports clubs and even individuals to acquire their own AEDs.
The first Save A Life workshop was held Jan. 20 at the Cherry Hill Library with 30 in attendance.
Remembering the day his high school buddy died, Gips said “defibrillators didn’t exist back then.”
“The irony is that my friend’s father was a cardiologist,” said Gips. “I looked at all the cardiology books lining his bookcase. He had all this knowledge, but there was nothing that he could have done to save his son.”
Today is different.
Easy access to AEDs could save 40,000 American lives a year, according to Gips. In five minutes, even a six-year-old can learn how to use one, he said.
Recently, each cardiologist in Gips’ group has purchased a cardiac defibrillator. Gips keeps his AED in his car. The equipment is hardy and self-checks its own batteries, he said.
AEDs have become less expensive over the years. There are several varieties on the market. One by Philips called HeartStart costs $900.
The cardiology group does not invest in any of the devices, Gips said.
“People go to Best Buy and purchase a plasma TV for $3,000 without batting an eyelash. These things are much cheaper and they save lives,” the cardiologist said.
An idea in the back of Gips’ mind for several years, the Save A Life workshop moved forward after an accident occurred involving a state Little League player. The boy was hit in the chest with a baseball and suffered a heart attack which led to brain damage.
“What a shame,” said Gips. “If someone had a defibrillator there, they would have resuscitated that child with no long-term harm.”
During Save A Life events, attendees learn about AEDs and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. They also hear facts such as the survival rate from a cardiac arrest is as high as 90 percent if treatment is initiated within the first few minutes.
During each session, a Medtronic AED is given away to a nonprofit group.
Future Save A Life programs will be held in March at the Washington Township Senior Citizen Center and in April in the Elmer/Vineland area. Additional information will be announced.
Read this story online here.