Many husbands refer to their wives as “life savers,” but in Peter Marton’s case it’s literally true.
On June 10 Marton, a Honda specialist, was with a group of friends enjoying an after-work outing at go-kart track near Sydney, New South Wales. His wife, Catherine Rees, was sitting in the grandstand at Easton Creek Karts when she saw a kart swerve off the track and into one of the embankments. Other drivers pulled off the track and ran to assist the driver. When they saw he wasn’t breathing, they began CPR. Officials called emergency medical services.
Rees works as a sales rep for Medevco, an Australian distributor for Cardiac Science’s Powerheart automated external defibrillators (AEDs) — and because she’d driven straight from work to the event, she had her car, with a Powerheart G3 Pro inside.
“It took about five minutes for me to get to the car park and back,” she recalls. “Out of the building, down the stairs, across to the car park, then back to the building, and across to the other side of the track.”
“I had an instinct it was Peter,” Rees said. Sure enough, the man they were trying to revive was her husband. As an AED expert, Rees knew that every minute that passed decreased her husband’s chances of survival by 10 percent. She attached the defibrillator pads.
“By the time I got there, he was in VT,” she said, referring to ventricular tachycardia, an ineffective heartbeat that fails to pump blood. “A number of defibrillations were required.”
Marton also had suffered a cut on his head when his go-cart crashed. Emergency services — a helicopter and two ambulances — responded to the calls, and a paramedic ambulance transported him to a nearby hospital.
“At the hospital, they iced him down and put him in a comatose state,” Rees said. Marton had suffered badly contused lungs and broken rib and hospital officials told her he had a 50-50 chance of survival.
Two weeks later, her husband was back home, in good condition.
“He’s perfectly fine,” Rees said, three weeks after the incident. “Because he had such effective CPR and because we were able to cardiovert him, he has a complete recovery. They say it’s absolutely due to the defibrillator.”
Marton says he knows he’s lucky that his wife was there with an AED.
“A good friend of mine passed away about three years ago,” Marton says. “He was playing indoor hockey and died of a heart attack on the court. He was only about 45.”
Rees, an AED sales representative for more than five years, has a new appreciation for the product. “I understand the importance of AEDs in the workplace even more than I did before,” she says.
Now that Marton is recovered and Rees has had time to think back on the incident, she says she learned several things that will affect the way she talks with people about AEDs.
“Doctors at the hospital were surprised I had an AED in my car,” she said. “Because they are accustomed to working with such high-end medical equipment, they didn’t realized the the average business or shopping center can afford one and be able to use one.”
She also encountered resistance from bystanders during the rescue who had the mistaken impression that you had to shave a person’s chest before applying defibrillator pads.
“It took a bit for me to convince them that, no, it doesn’t matter, just do it!” she said.
Although she has spent years teaching other people about AEDS, seeing the Powerheart G3 AED in a real-life situation gave Rees a new appreciation for the device and the effectiveness of its audio prompts.
“I always tell customers that it talks you through, and because the metronome for CPR is there, it makes everything calmer,” Rees said. “That’s exactly what happened. It kept people focused and it kept people calm before they were reassured that they were proceeding in the right manner.”
Rees, using the same Powerheart AED G3 Pro on sales calls, thinks of the device in a new way. She says, “I find that I want to say to people ‘I’ve got a personal interest in this one!’”