(EFFINGHAM, IL) – HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital recently donated an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to the Effingham Child Development Center to assist them in emergency preparedness.
An AED is a portable defibrillator designed to be automated such that it can be used by those without substantial medical training who are responding to a cardiac emergency. The defibrillator delivers a brief electroshock to the heart through electrodes (pads) placed on the chest. With the AED, it can check a person’s heart rhythm through the pads, recognize a rhythm that requires a shock, and advise the rescuer when a shock is needed, using clear and concise voice prompts on placing the pads and when to step away before the shock is delivered.
Shelli French, director of the Effingham Child Development Center, shared that this AED is especially helpful to the center’s staff to be prepared in a time of crisis, given they had an emergency situation occur with a child at the center in February 2018. “Mya Schumacher came to us at about eight weeks old. She was one of those children who seemed to catch the viruses and illnesses that came around, so we were always very cautious with her. But on January 31, 2018, a teacher brought Mya to me because she was very hoarse and her cry was silent. I recognized she was in respiratory distress and called 911 and her parents [Michael and Samantha Schumacher] immediately and she was taken to St. Anthony’s.”
After being stabilized and helicoptered to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Mya was diagnosed with a heart defect called ALCAPA. ALCAPA, which stands for “Anomalous Left Coronary Artery from the Pulmonary Artery (ALCAPA), is a congenital heart defect where the developing blood vessel to the heart muscle does not attach correctly. The left coronary artery (LCA), which carries blood to the heart muscle, begins from the pulmonary artery instead of the aorta. Mya underwent open heart surgery and she is now doing well as a one year-old, thanks in part to the quick reactions of the Effingham Child Development Center’s staff.
Samantha Schumacher, Mya’s mother, shared, “I am so grateful that HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital is donating this AED to the Effingham Child Development Center. I would hope that another parent does not have to go through what we did with Mya, but it means so much to me knowing that they have something like that now in case another case like that happens again.”
This is the fifth organization to which St. Anthony’s has donated AEDs. Previous to this donation, the hospital also donated AEDs and provided training to the Effingham Performance Center, the Grove Township Community Center, the Richard E. Workman Sports and Wellness Complex, and the Effingham County Fairgrounds.
Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the U.S. According to the American Heart Association, each year, emergency medical services (EMS) treat about 360,000 victims of cardiac arrest before they reach the hospital, Less than 10 percent of those victims survive. Using an AED is an effective treatment for restoring a regular heart rhythm during sudden cardiac arrest and is an easy to operate tool for someone with no medical background. And with cardiac arrest, time is of the essence. The American Heart Association estimates that a victim’s chance of survival decreases by 7 to 10 percent for every minute that passes without defibrillation.
French said, “At our center, we are the first responders if something critical happens to one of the children under our care. Having this AED and training our staff on First Aid/CPR and AED use gives me a peace of mind that we have the equipment and training if the need arises.”
St. Anthony’s Chief Nursing Officer Kelly Sager shared, “St. Anthony’s ministry extends outside our walls to ensure that we are providing the best possible care where it is needed. We always hope that they won’t ever be needed, but if we can help provide the equipment so area citizens can help save a life, then it is more than worth the expense,” she said.
Photo: Kelly Sager (second from right), HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital chief nursing officer; and Becca Niebrugge (far right), St. Anthony’s accounting manager, present an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), to Shelli French (second from left), director of the Effingham Child Development Center. Joining in the presentation is Lucie Tuttle (left), a cook for St. Anthony’s food and nutrition department. Tuttle’s granddaughter, Mya Schumacher, experienced respiratory distress while at the Effingham Child Development Center a year ago, and led in part to this donation.