The case of 32-year-old new mother Samantha (Sam) Jobe clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of having an emergency action plan and applying early defibrillation. On 10 May 2014, Sam attended the Crossfit121 fitness centre at Cheltenham, Melbourne, accompanied by her husband, Damien, and two-month-old baby daughter, Makayla. Sam had just started her ropes workout when she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and collapsed to the floor. The trainers of the gym, Maria, Chris and Tara immediately called Triple Zero (000) and started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
The gym did not have an AED but, fortunately for everyone, the business next door, BASF, had purchased an AED only weeks earlier when they identified that the location of the nearest AED unit was a considerable distance away. BASF had then informed all the local businesses where the AED was located. The AED was retrieved from BASF and used to defibrillate Sam.
The first aid management of Sam’s cardiac arrest was textbook perfect. Her rescuers continued CPR after the delivery of the shock and two minutes later the AED analysed her heart rhythm again. This time it said ‘no shock advised’. Sam, however, was still unconscious and not breathing. Rather than assume that the AED had not succeeded, the rescuers continued with CPR.
Shortly after paramedics arrived and were able to assist her ventilation and she started breathing on her home. The AED had actually succeeded in restoring her normal heart rhythm which is why there was ‘no shock advised’ the second time. As often happens, Sam had not yet resumed breathing on her own. Had they given up at that point, she would have gone back into cardiac arrest.
Sam survived and now has an implanted defibrillator which has saved her life a second time when it detected a lethal heart rhythm and automatically defibrillated her, early enough to prevent her suffering another full cardiac arrest. It is important to note that Sam did not have a heart attack; the cause of her cardiac arrest is believed to be an abnormal heart rhythm or electrical disturbance of her heartbeat. Cardiac arrests in younger people are rarely caused by a heart attack and, if defibrillated quickly, a young person’s abnormal heart rhythm can be effectively reversed. Too many young victims do not survive, however, because AEDs are not available quickly enough.
Chris and Maria subsequently purchased an AED for their Crossfit121 centre.