According to the National Institutes of Health website, more than 500,000 people a year die of sudden cardiac death in the U.S. and two Portland Community College instructors are trying to do something about it.
James and Indy Lucas of Corbett use a children’s book they’ve written and published in 2010 titled, “An Adventure with Ed the AED,” to educate children in grade schools on how an Automatic External Defibrillator works and how to find one in case they see a person in cardiac arrest. An AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses life threatening cardiac rhythms and treats them through electrical therapy. The couple was inspired to write the book by a recent rash of preventable cardiac deaths at local schools that have made the news. In those cases, staff and classmates didn’t have the CPR skills or knowledge of AEDs to save the victims’ lives.
“Why were doing this is to get people aware of where AEDs are, have them go find the AEDs and be comfortable using them because you don’t know when somebody is going to collapse,” said James Lucas. “It’s the one thing that you can do (using an AED) to make difference.”
The book is dedicated to the memory of James’ Navy SEAL brother Jeff, who was killed trying to rescue other SEALS in Afghanistan. The story of that operation became the basis for the film, “Lone Survivor.” To honor his memory, the couple used Jeff as a character in the book, which shows kids how to help a person who is need.
“The book encourages them that it’s the right thing to do,” said James, who has worked as a fireman and paramedic for Hoodland Fire in Welches for the past 18 years. “Just get in there and do something instead of standing back and doing nothing.”
For schools and parents, “An Adventure with Ed the AED,” can be found on Amazon.com. The illustrative book gives children and adults training through easy steps with simple-to-understand instructions on the use of an AED and hands-only Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
“Every penny that comes off the book through Amazon goes directly into these AED units we get at distributor rates and we ship them off to Parent Heart Watch, which already has a system that disperses them across the country,” added Indy Lucas, who has worked the past 15 years with American Medical Response. “It’s really a no-brainer for us. We also are able to give to Jeff’s memorial fund.”
The Lucases want to change how AEDs are viewed as well. They said that protocols at schools mean only nurses or a select few administrators or staff are approved by the districts to use an AED in emergencies. If a child or adult goes into cardiac arrest, those protocols can mean the victim won’t receive any help if the staff member in charge of the AED isn’t close by.“I was wondering, ‘Why doesn’t everybody get to know this thing and use it?’” said James. “We did some research and found kids can do it. We want to create a generation that can identify and use AEDs.”
The book fits right into with what the Lucases do for a living. They teach at the PCC CLIMB Center’s American Heart Association Training Center within the Institute for Health Professional Program. The couple’s classes include Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support, all targeting health professionals.
“It’s fun for us,” Indy said. “We get people involved and get them hands on. Anybody can learn it.”
The issue of making AEDs available is catching on. The Lucases said that Pennsylvania, California and Oregon have implemented various laws requiring the devices to be available in public spaces, or making sure kids get basic training on them.
Wes Harwood is the coordinator for PCC’s American Heart Association Training Center. He’s watched the Lucases brainstorm, write and publish the children’s book and thinks it’s great that they are trying to change how people view AEDs.
“I have been highly impressed,” Harwood said. “Having a unique learning tool such as the one that they have created for the school age audience will help bring the message home effectively to these youngsters and their families. Personally and professionally, I laud them and thank them for their contribution.”