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Defibrillators in Metra cars could save heart attack victims

Governor PQuinn with an automated external defibrillator (AED) device Metrrail car Thursday December 27 2012. I John H. White~Sun-Times

Governor Pat Quinn with an automated external defibrillator (AED) device on Metra rail car, Thursday, December 27, 2012. I John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 29, 2013 6:29AM



All Metra trains will be equipped with automatic external defibrillators by the end of January, officials announced on Thursday.

The easy-to-use, automated device helped a Naperville woman save two lives at the fitness center were she works.

The latest involved a man who collapsed face first on a treadmill after going into cardiac arrest. Tracy Trimble got some help rolling the man over, then she performed CPR and chest compressions. And with the defibrillator, she brought the man back to life.

“His body jolted and the machine told me to continue CPR, so I continued,” she said. “And I gave one last breath and all of a sudden miraculously, he was awake again.”

Trimble says she sees the man at the gym every so often: “He’s a big Italian guy so he gives me a hug and a kiss on the cheek every time he sees me.”

Trimble’s heroic efforts might become more commonplace come next year, as Metra finishes adding AEDs to its railcars.

The defibrillators are being placed near the bathrooms in all cab cars for the 10 Metra lines that use diesel locomotives. For Metra’s Electric Line, they’re being placed near the engineer compartment of every odd-numbered car. On Metra’s newest Highliner cars, they’ll be located near the bathroom on every odd-numbered car.

To know whether an AED is on your car, look for a sticker near the door featuring an AED sign with a heart. When the latch to the device is opened, Metra staff showed, a loud siren goes off until the defibrillator is back in place.

At a press conference Thursday morning at Millennium Station, an AED expert showed onlookers how the defibrillator is used. Via a recording, it tells you exactly where to place the pads and when to conduct chest compressions and it even analyzes whether or not the victim needs an electric shock.

About 1,000 people in America have heart attacks every day. And about 50,000 will be saved by using AEDs, according to the American Red Cross.

“Bystanders can save the lives of their fellow citizens,” said Dr. Amer Aldeen, director of the Chicago Cardiac Arrest Resuscitation Education Service. “Performing chest compressions and using AEDs can almost triple survival rates for someone in cardiac arrest.”

Gov. Pat Quinn said his goal is to get AEDs in as many public spaces as possible to make the state leaders in the field.

“We want to make AEDs as common as fire extinguishers in the course of our daily lives, whether it be a school or another public place, or traveling,” Quinn said. “That’s how you really have great public health, preventing bad things from happening in the first place. We don’t want people to die from sudden cardiac arrest, and we can prevent that with an AED.”

An RTA grant will cover the cost of purchasing the 300 AEDs from Cardiac Science Corporation. Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine is sponsoring the defibrillators to help offset the costs of traning about 1,000 Metra employees. The sponsorship also includes maintenance of the machines for five years.



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