College Student Saved From Cardiact Arrest by Using ZOLL AED Plus
College sophomore Ashley Riss was psyched to relax with her grandparents at their Arizona retirement community after finishing her rigorous spring exams at the University of Northern Colorado. But her exams were a walk in the park compared with what she was about to experience on the resort’s pickle ball courts. The night of her arrival, Ashley collapsed during a round robin as she bent down to pick up a ball.
The Rescue: Retired Nurse and AED Advocate Take Quick Action
Fortunately for Ashley, Marg Ouimet, a retired emergency room and ICU nurse, saw her collapse and knew exactly what to do. As other members of the Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort looked on in disbelief, Marg ran over to Ashley. She shook her and called her name.
No response. Determining Ashley was unresponsive, Marg, cool-headed, started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and asked a fellow resident to call 911 and retrieve the automated external defibrillator (AED) from beside the courts.
Marg cut off Ashley’s shirt and bra with the scissors that come with the ZOLL AED Plusand talked another rescuer through setting up the device as she continued CPR. While applying the electrode pads, Marg administered one-handed CPR. Once the pads were in place, the AED Plus analyzed Ashley’s heart rhythm. It advised a shock.
Marg cleared the area and told the other rescuer to push the flashing shock button. She then resumed CPR, and the AED validated the quality of her chest compressions through its Real CPR Help® technology.
The AED provided real-time feedback for both depth and rate of her chest compressions. Marg estimates that another two minutes passed before Ashley’s color returned and she took a spontaneous breath.
“I finally felt a pulse,” said Marg, who continued monitoring Ashley’s pulse until the ambulance arrived a minute later. “Even though I have defibrillated a number of people before, it was in a controlled setting, in Emergency, where I had other extremely qualified people helping. I was so glad Ashley was okay and I could help her.”
“The last thing I remember is that I had bent over and my vision blurred,” said Ashley. “Then I remember waking up on the pickle ball courts before the ambulance arrived. I felt fine after I woke up. By the time I was in the ambulance, I was laughing with the paramedics. It was the weirdest thing.”
Ashley was transported by ambulance to the local hospital, where she stayed in the ICU overnight. But Ashley was not out of the woods. Born with a congenital heart defect, she was transferred the next day to the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Scottsdale, about an hour away.
At Mayo, the doctors, however, were not sure what course of action to take since they were unclear as to the type of arrhythmia Ashley had experienced. Again, the AED came to the rescue. Recorded data, specifically Ashley’s ECG, was retrieved from the AED Plus. What was discovered shocked her doctors.
Originally, they believed Ashley had experienced atrial, not ventricular, fibrillation. The data clarified her arrhythmia and led them to change their treatment. Ashley underwent surgery the following day to implant an ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator). A week later, she was back finishing her sophomore year at college, where she is studying chemistry to become a pharmacist.
Three months after the incident, Ashley said her life is “pretty much back to normal.” But one thing has changed significantly. She has a new friend for life. “Marg and I talk a lot. I got really lucky with her being there. I can’t even thank her enough no words would ever be enough.” The feeling is mutual. “Ashley is now a big part in my life,” says Marg, 63, a Canadian cattle farmer who winters in Arizona.
The Resources: Access to AEDs and CPR Training Are Critical
After Ashley’s save, Marg, who oversees the resort’s AED/CPR program, recommended upgrading the community’s three AEDs and adding another device. “Communities need to make sure AEDs are easily accessible and that there are courses for the residents on CPR and how to use the AED,” Marg said. “The AED Plus was easy to use. I like how it talks you through the rescue. It keeps you calm.” She also recommends a formal program to check the AEDs once a month, and upgrade the machines when appropriate.
Thanks to Marg’s efforts to help train the resort residents in CPR and in the use of an AED ironically right on the pickle ball courts—and her continued interest in making sure the program is maintained, the residents of Palm Creek Golf and RV Resort can breathe a huge sigh of relief.
So can Ashley’s Mom, Tina Riss. “I am so grateful that Marg was at the courts that night and that the resort had an AED available,” said Tina. “Without them we would have had a very different outcome, and that is just so hard to even think about.”