Welcome to my J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session, a weekly column where I answer your basic electrical questions. If you’re a newbie who’s never plugged in a shore power cord (or ask – what’s a shore power cord?), or wonder why your daughter’s hair dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, this column is for you. Send your questions to Mike Sokol at mike (at) noshockzone.org with the subject line – JAM. This week I discuss AEDs.
Since my husband has a heart problem, we’re concerned about what would happen if he had a heart attack at a campground. I don’t remember seeing an AED at any of the campgrounds we’ve visited lately. Is this something we can get ourselves? Can a non-medical person use one in an emergency? —Sally G.
It’s great that you’re being proactive about this. If your husband had a heart attack at a campground, you are his best advocate. And you need two important items and a little extra training to help him.
Tick-tock – Time is everything!
He who hesitates is lost, so get your act into high gear. Since the average ambulance response time in America is more than 10 minutes (and lots longer at a remote campground), you have to be the first responder for your loved one.
Do you know where the campground AED (automated external defibrillator) is located?
Well, I’m not sure just how many campgrounds have an AED on location, but it’s best if you know exactly where it is BEFORE you need it. If they don’t have one on-site, then you should ask them “why not?” And I think it would be a good idea for you to get your own portable AED and carry it in your RV at all times.
Call 9-1-1 First
That’s right. Every CPR class I’ve been to and First Responder I’ve discussed this with has stressed that the first thing to do in any emergency situation is call 911. But realize that not all 911 services can identify your GPS coordinates automatically, so you need to know exactly where you are at all times, just in case you need to call in an emergency. So call 911, identify the problem, and ask how to proceed.
Take a CPR course in advance
I’ve promoted the idea of CPR classes at the RV rallies I’ve been to, but so far haven’t seen one. But I believe that a very basic Compression-Only CPR class would save lives, not just from electric shock, but also from heart attacks. Hey, none of us is getting any younger. And Compression-Only CPR doesn’t require you to breathe into anyone’s mouth. You can do it with a mask on, so don’t worry.
Buy an AED for yourself – It’s easy to use
These are really affordable nowadays, and they’re completely automated with voice commands. In fact, there was a case a few years back when a 10-year-old child without any training at all saved his grandfather’s life by using an AED. It’s easier than you think.
Now, I can’t recommend any specific brand or model, or even a site where you can buy one. So, you’ll need to research this for yourself. However, if this is a topic you’re interested in, I’ll do some more research and see what I can learn. (In the meantime, see editor’s note below.)
You might save a life and become a super hero
OK, everyone. Remember that electricity is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using it.
Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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Information from American Red Cross on AEDs and CPR
Information from American Heart Association on AEDs and CPR
From the editor: We are not necessarily endorsing this product, but so you can see what is available and get more information, here is an AED available on Amazon: Philips HeartStart Onsite AED. The description states, in part: “The Philips HeartStart OnSite Defibrillator is made for people who have never used a defibrillator before. The first and only defibrillator available without a prescription in the United States, it is designed to be easy to set up and use.”