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An Exercise in Lifesaving

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An Exercise in Lifesaving

Dr. Sharon Johnson and Dr. Melissa Hartman ’96 with an automated external defibrillator. Photo credit: Scott L. Huck/Cedarville University

by Alumni Relations - Cedarville, OH

March 16, 2007

Those who see Cedarville professor Dr. Sharon Johnson exercising in the University’s Fitness Center today might never guess that his life was nearly taken by a heart attack in that same location just a few months ago. Thanks to an external defibrillator in the building and quick thinking by Dr. Melissa Hartman ’96 (head volleyball coach) and other CU personnel, his life was saved.

The University’s recent move to increase the number of its automated external defibrillators (AEDs), coupled with increased CPR training opportunities, marks Cedarville as a campus where lifesaving skills are visibly honed.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 250,000 Americans die each year from sudden cardiac arrest. An AED is a portable electronic device that diagnoses and treats cardiac arrest by re-establishing an effective heart rhythm. The operator of the machine first applies the electrode pads to the victim’s chest, allowing the control computer to determine if a shock is necessary. If it is, the machine delivers the shock, essentially resetting the heart’s rhythm and allowing the heart a chance to restart normal electrical activity and resume effective beating.

Cedarville has had an AED or some form of cardiac defibrillator on campus for at least 30 years, but they were used only by the professional healthcare providers on campus. However, with new technology making the lifesaving devices easy to use for those who aren’t healthcare professionals, AEDs are now accessible to anyone at Cedarville. Cedarville University has five AEDs located throughout campus, including in high-traffic buildings such as the Stevens Student Center and the Recreation Center.

When Johnson looks back on the events of the day that he nearly lost his life, he is thankful for the technology used to save him. “Because of [Hartman and the CU emergency squad’s] fast response and the use of the proper equipment, my heart and brain escaped any lasting damage. I praise the Lord for the decision to install more machines — they will save lives!” he said.