Ashleigh Smith, left, operating an AED and Alexandria Adedokun during a course at Health Education Strategies in Allen Park on Friday. (David Coates / The Detroit News)
Jon Looman became one of the 720,000 people in the U.S. who suffered a heart attack last year.
He was 49 and teaching a spinning class at a YMCA when he began to feel ill.
“I collapsed off the bike,” said Looman.
Many who have a heart attack, aren’t as lucky as Looman.
According to the American Heart Association’s 2014 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistical Update, of those 720,000, 122,000 die. Heart disease is the the No. 1 cause of death in the country.
Now fully recovered, Looman, 50, credits quick-thinking bystanders and an automated external defibrillator (AED) for saving his life.
“I was very fortunate that there were people in the class who knew CPR and the folks at the YMCA responded quickly, putting an AED unit on me,” said Looman, the CEO of Community West Credit Union in Grand Rapids.
AEDs have become mainstays in venues where many people gather. They often are easily recognizable in malls, arenas and on campus among other places. A number of groups such as the American Red Cross offer classes and training on how to use the compact, portable devices.
After his experience, Looman reached out to the Michigan Credit Union League to create a program to place AEDs in as many credit unions in the state as possible. The trade association for Michigan credit unions, represents 98 percent of the nearly 300 community financial institutions, spokeswoman Lee Ann Mares said.
Nearly a year after Looman had his heart attack, 53 credit unions have expressed an interest in the program representing 176 branches, said the league’s Marc Buchanan. In 40 days since introducing the program, eight credit unions have installed the devices in 27 branches. The Credit Union League has also put AEDs in their offices in Lansing and Livonia.
It will cost about $1.3 million to put the devices in every credit union branch, Buchanan said. Each costs $1,250, a 37 percent discount off the retail price.
Individual credit unions are responsible for buying the devices and the reduced rate is valid through the end of the year, he said, although there is no timetable for the program.
The machines are used to treat two kinds of conditions. A heart attack, where blood flow to part of the heart muscle is blocked, and sudden cardiac arrest, caused by ventricular fibrillation, a type of arrhythmia or irregular heart rhythm, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
A portable AED is an electronic device that shocks an ineffectively beating heart back into normal rhythm. It includes instructions and can be operated by someone who may or may not be trained in its use.
Henry Kim, division head of cardiology at Henry Ford Hospital said AEDs can save lives.
“If there is a bystander to provide CPR and if they have a AED — really it is the most effective way to resuscitate that patient,” Kim said. “If you have to wait for an ambulance to get there, those are seconds and minutes that are critical to someone’s ability to survive.”
According to a 2013 policy report by the American Heart and American Stroke associations, 382,800 EMS-treated sudden cardiac arrests occur annually outside of a hospital setting. On average, 11 percent of victims survive. Survival chances can more than double with immediate CPR or early defibrillation with an AED.
MCUL selected Zoll Automated External Defibrillators made by Zoll Medical Corporation of Massachusetts. Besides providing a shock to the heart, the devices also allow rescuers to make sure they are doing proper chest compressions during CPR, said Kevin Gillespie, regional manager.
Not all heart attack victims will need a shock — only about half do — but nearly all will require CPR, according to Zoll’s web site.
“If I collapse and you are doing compressions that are not deep enough ... the device will tell you to push harder,” Gillespie said.
Looman said he was shocked up to six times on his trip to the hospital after his Jan. 29 heart attack, where doctors found a blockage.
An avid jogger, Looman said his weight was not a problem and cholesterol levels were good, but he couldn’t run from genetics.