By John Reese
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs
You’ve seen them hanging on the walls in public places – a small box, usually with the symbol of a lightning bolt over a heart. Automated External Defibrillators are light, portable, battery-operated devices intended to shock a heart back to beating.
There are only two certified AED instructor/trainers serving the American military communities in Europe, said Steven Dunlap, assistant manager, Kelley Fitness Center. The USAG Stuttgart Family & Morale, Welfare and Recreation employee is one of them and the other is at Vicenza, Italy. They’re the only ones Red Cross certified to train the trainer in AED.
Simply shocking a victim’s heart is only part of properly using an AED. Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a vital, complimentary aspect of AED use. There are different techniques taught for CPR.
“I teach CPR/AED/first aid to more than just FMWR employees,” Dunlap said, adding he also conducts classes for the overall community, units, offices and more upon request. At the beginning of September, he spent a weekend teaching an AED instructor course at Ramstein Air Force Base.
If you’ve never used an AED before, it has easy to follow graphics and the unit itself speaks to the user, providing step-by-step instructions on where to place the shocking patches on the victim, when to stand clear and administer the shock and when to continue CPR.
“It tells you exactly what to do,” Dunlap said. “I think where people get confused about the AED is that you still need to do CPR. It’s one of the things it says; to either stop or continue CPR. “
Originally certified in CPR and first aid as far back as the 1970s, Dunlap has seen the changes in AED equipment and CPR techniques over time, including serving two years in Los Angeles paramedic in the 1980s.
“I’ve seen these things work,” he said. “I’ve had to use an AED on people twice: Once at a store, and last year I had to use one on an individual at the Kelley Fitness Center.”
Being up to date on how to perform CPR is critical to using an AED. The most common method of CPR is to alternate rescue breaths with chest compressions.
“It depends on who you take the CPR class with, whether it’s the Red Cross or the American Heart Association,” he said. “The Red Cross has something called ‘hands only CPR’. We have the full-blown CPR class, which teaches you everything.”
“I saw someone have a heart attack at an airport one time, so it can happen to anybody, anywhere, and that’s why it’s important to know how to use an AED,” he said.
Dunlap teaches child, infant and adult CPR. More classes are expected to be scheduled beginning in late October, Dunlap said.
“There should be a lot more people who know how to do this,” Dunlap said.