Dictionary.com defines defibrillator [dee-fahy-bruh-ley-ter, -fib-ruh-] /diˈfaɪ brəˌleɪ tər, -ˈfɪb rə-/ as noun, Medicine/Medical
1. an agent or device for arresting fibrillation of the atrial or ventricular muscles of the heart.
Do you know what that is? I’m sure you do. You must have seen one of those medical dramas at some point in your life where someone passes out, the staff rips the person’s shirt open, they slap paddles on him, yell “charging” and “clear” and then zap him back among the living while he flops around like a fish out of water. Yeah, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
If you’ve lived in a cave for the past dozen years with no contact to modern technology you many not know that there are now things called AEDs. “An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a patient, and is able to treat them through defibrillation, the application of electrical therapy which stops the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm.”
Many, many places now have these gizmos onsite, including where I work. One of the things I do is purchase the fancy batteries that keep these machines operational. They are extremely expensive and have a definite, limited shelf life so they are not stocked by any of the local medical supply people. Understandable and in a perfect world that would be no problem. AEDs warn you when the batteries are getting low. Cool, right? It would be if people had enough sense to mention that the soon-to-be-non-functional equipment was emitting an even more annoying beep than a smoke alarm going bad. Had they done so I wouldn’t have spent a good chunk of time this morning phoning around, attempting to locate one even though I knew better. I guess not everyone hears that sound as I do.
I did speak with a very pleasant woman at the Red Cross who actually called the manufacturer’s rep to try to help me obtain a new battery immediately. No luck but the rep did mention that Wal-Mart has begun carrying their AEDs though she wasn’t sure if they also had batteries or not. Okay. I called one of the local superstores. I was transferred to the pharmacy department. So far, so good. I explained what I wanted and was asked if a defibrillator was part of a toothbrush. Um. No. So I was passed off to electronics who had no clue what I was talking about and said no, try somewhere else.
The second Wal-Mart superstore in the area said, “Oh, that’s an auto part, just a moment, I’ll transfer you.” I attempted to explain and was promptly put on hold. Many minutes later she came back and told me, “They were all gone.” Click. Yeah, I’m fairly certain she was clueless as well.
I threw in the towel and ordered online like I usually do when given proper warning of the battery going dead. We do have more than one unit, so we’re still okay. It’s not urgently urgent even though it is nicer and less stressful, should the AED ever actually be needed, to have one right at your fingertips but I’m sure we’re perfectly capable of dealing with it should it become necessary.
My point. If you’re in danger of having a medical emergency don’t go to Wal-Mart. I seriously doubt the staff there knows where their AED is located, let alone how to use it. On the other hand, they may try reviving you with an electric toothbrush or jumpstarting you with a car battery and then, should you survive, you’d have quite a tale to tell your grandchildren.
Happy weekend, all. Oh wait. It’s only Wednesday. Two more days to go. Sigh…