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Published: Saturday, 4/7/2001

Detroit Metro adds devices at stations for heart patients

Medical devices that could help save heart-attack victims are now minutes away from any location in Detroit-Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, county officials announced this week.

Forty-six publicly accessible, automated heart defibrillators have been installed in cabinets throughout Metro's terminals, potentially shaving minutes off the time needed for cardiac patients to get help.

A Toledo Express Airport spokesman said officials there have no plans to set up similar defibrillator stations.

Brian Schwartz, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority's communications manager, said the airport's emergency crew takes a defibrillator to all medical emergencies. Officials are considering buying a second defibrillator to be stationed in the passenger terminal, he said, but it would not be accessible to the public.

During a cardiac arrest, the heart often goes into an ineffective twitching and no longer pumps blood - a condition known as fibrillation. Defibrillators use a brief electric shock to stop the twitching and allow the heart to resume regular beating.

The automated external defibrillators at Detroit Metro are designed for use by people who have no special training, an airport statement said. They detect and analyze a patient's heart rhythm and deliver an electric shock only if needed to restore a proper heartbeat.

When a defibrillator cabinet is opened, an alarm will sound at the airport's dispatch center and paramedics will be sent to the scene, officials said.

Rescue crews at Detroit Metro responded to hundreds of heart-related emergencies, including 10 cardiac arrests, during 1999, the most recent year for which information is available, airport spokeswoman Schannon Love said. The airport fire department has six advanced life support units it uses during such responses, she said.

Mr. Schwartz said the port authority police have been defibrillator-equipped for about one year, “and they have not had occasion to use it.”

Plans are being made to provide automated defibrillators at Detroit Metro's midfield terminal when it opens this year, Ms. Love said.

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