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Not a report of Death This Time. Defib Saves Life

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Lynn Perry Find out more about Lynn Perry
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  • Not a report of Death This Time. Defib Saves Life

    Just found this in one of our local papers. The man in the article lives about 20 minutes away from the HCMA headquarters.
    -----

    Sunday, February 17, 2008


    By CHRISTINA TATU

    [email protected]

    Last summer, when 65-year-old Manny Volk's heart stopped beating, his wife, Connie, didn't think he would make it to the hospital.

    Connie Volk immediately performed CPR, and when Byram police officers arrived they used a life-saving automated external defibrillator to get her husband's heart beating again.

    Officers John D'Onofrio and Brian Moreland used the defibrillator on Manny Volk in an upstairs room of his Lake Mohawk home. Since the stairwell and hallway were too narrow for paramedics to carry him out of the residence, members of the Lakeland Rescue Squad had to use ropes to lower him about 30 feet over a railing and into his living room below.

    Volk says he has no recollection of the ordeal. The only thing he remembers is waking up in a hospital bed 20 days later. After his double bypass surgery, Volk developed pneumonia and blood in his lungs, and required a tracheotomy. It took him almost two months to recover, but now he says he's a changed person.

    "If it weren't for that defibrillator, I wouldn't be standing here right now," he said.

    On Friday, Volk and his wife visited Newton Memorial Hospital to thank doctors and organizers of the AED program.

    No larger than a lunch box, the electronic device provides a life-saving defibrillation, or electric shock, to the heart of a cardiac arrest victim.

    The machine was just one of 336 AEDs the Newton Memorial Hospital Foundation has provided to the community since it began its AED program in 2001.

    Volk's life is one of 32 lives saved since the hospital began the program.

    "I just look around me, and life is beautiful. As soon as I was well, I called officers D'Onofrio and Moreland to thank them, and I thank my wife Connie every day," Volk said.

    "The defibrillators are a godsend because the longer the heart remains in unstable electrical rhythm, the less likely we are able to get it in a stable rhythm again," said Newton Memorial Hospital Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation Loretta Ritter.

    In January, the hospital bought 12 more portable defibrillators, which it will provide at a discounted price to local police units and paramedics. Each unit costs about $1,700, but when used with CPR, the AED can more than double a patient's survival rate. It is estimated that about 90 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital, but when immediate CPR and a shock from the AED is provided within three to five minutes, the survival rates jump to 48 to 74 percent, according to the American Heart Association.

    "Without the defibrillator I wouldn't be able to do my job," D'Onofrio said. Volk's heart attack was only the third time that D'Onofrio had to use the defibrillator. D'Onofrio said the Byram Police Department has three of the devices.

    Unlike the defibrillators seen in television shows, the AEDs are small and light and use adhesive electrode pads that rescuers attach to the victim's chest.

    Byram officers attend a special training class in order to use the AED, but D'Onofrio said it's not very difficult.

    "There is a diagram on the machine that shows you where to put the pads," he said.

    Connie Volk said that since her husband's attack, the family has completely changed their eating habits. They don't eat as much red meat and have started eating more fruit and vegetables. Before his heart attack, Manny Volk was a smoker, but he's since quit.

    "I'd encourage everyone to go to the Red Cross or the hospital to take a course in CPR," Connie Volk said. She remembered how to administer CPR from her teenage years working as a lifeguard.

    "It doesn't matter if you never use it, you just never know whose life it might save," she said.
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