Employees at Hank’s sprang into action to help resuscitate a man who collapsed in the deli last week, providing crucial intervention in the initial minutes with CPR and shocks from a defibrillator.
The customer, a man in his 60s, was at a table in the deli at Hank’s Harvest Foods in Twisp on Tuesday, Dec. 21, when he collapsed, reportedly from cardiac arrest. He had no pulse and was unconscious. The man hasn’t been identified to protect his privacy.
A worker in the deli called 911. Store Manager Jimmy Gariano helped cordon off the area and asked Assistant Manager Carlan Nielsen to get the AED (automated external defibrillator). Jesse Fuller, Hank’s floor manager, grabbed the AED while Nielsen and Gariano prepared the man for the defibrillator.
“Everyone did exactly what they should have,” Nielsen said.
Fuller had delivered one shock with the AED and started chest compressions before Aero Methow Rescue Service arrived five or six minutes later.
Their swift actions “gave him the best possible chance,” said Aero Methow Director of Services Cindy Button. “They did an amazing job.”
Once Aero Methow arrived, paramedics and EMTs took turns administering shocks and CPR. It took about 45 minutes for the man to regain a good, strong heartbeat, Button said.
AEDs: easy-to-follow instructions
Fuller has been a volunteer firefighter for Okanogan County Fire District 6 for more than 15 years, and Nielsen used to be a first responder, so both have training in first aid and CPR. But neither had ever had to use it.
While having training is certainly a benefit, anyone can use an AED. You should never hesitate to grab an AED if someone is unconscious, unresponsive, and not breathing – you open it, turn it on, and it tells you what to do, Button said.
The machine talks to you, giving step-by-step instructions. It tells you whether a shock is advised and when to administer it, guides you through CPR, and then reassesses, said Theresa Remsberg, who handles injury prevention community education for Aero Methow and is their American Heart Association (AHA) Training Center faculty.
An AED delivers a jolt of electricity to the person’s chest to allow the heart to return to a normal rhythm. CPR supports the flow of blood to the brain and back to the heart, Remsberg said.
If an AED is used within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, there’s a very high probability of shocking the heart into a rhythm that returns it to spontaneous circulation, with the heart beating, blood circulating, and normal breathing, Remsberg said.
There are about 38 AEDs in the Methow, from Carlton to Mazama, although not all are accessible to the public. At Hank’s, the AED is at the customer service desk, where anyone can grab it, Nielsen said.
Using the defibrillator and CPR provide a critical bridge until paramedics arrive and can address the problem with advanced heart monitors and medication, Remsberg said. If someone needs defibrillation, every minute without an AED decreases the chance of survival by about 10%, Button said.
Because it was too cold for a helicopter flight, the patient was transported by ambulance to Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster, and then to Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee, where he is receiving care, Button said.
Learn CPR, first aid
Aero Methow hasn’t been holding in-person first-aid classes because of the pandemic, but people can take the online First Aid CPR-AED Heartsaver course from the American Heart Association (AHA), and then go to Aero Methow for a hands-on skills check. Information about training is on the Aero Methow website at www.aeromethow.org under Classes & Programs and then Community/Workplace CPR, or through the AHA at learning.heart.org.
Call Aero Methow at 997-4013 for more information.