Airport AEDs credited with saving lives

By Greg Gelpi

The man's skin turned from a "light peach" color to "pure white" before his eyes, Richard Frandsen recalled.

The Transportation Security Administration screening supervisor recounted the experience he and his coworkers had utilizing automated external defibrillators at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in December.

"I knew if we didn't take swift action, he would perish immediately," Frandsen, 26, said.

He was conducting a briefing with TSA employees near an airport screening facility when several people motioned for assistance, directing his attention to the man's body on the ground.

Along with fellow TSA employees Stephen Brown and Brian Miller, they grabbed an automated external defibrillator, followed the voice prompts and, according to paramedics who arrived moments later, saved the man's life, Frandsen said.

The devices have been credited with saving nine lives since more than 200 of them were installed at the airport less than two years ago.

"For the affected families, it is gratifying to know that the availability of these machines inside our terminal and concourses played a major factor in their loved ones' survival," Aviation General Manager Ben DeCosta said in a statement.

To make airport employees and customers aware of the importance of the devices and the seriousness of heart disease, Hartsfield-Jackson and the American Heart Association recently unveiled a "giant red dress statue," Ann-Marie C. White of the American Heart Association said.

The statue, which is in the airport's atrium, stands as a reminder that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, White said.

Frandsen called the automated external defibrillator a "wonderful piece of equipment."

"As far as I'm concerned, the AED is just a phenomenal device," he said.

Frandsen said it was "bizarre" like something from television, watching how quickly the person faded away and just as quickly returned to a normal complexion.

"It was sort of like a special effect, except there were no special effects," he said describing the man's color. "Just as you see in the television dramas, the body did indeed buck upward."

Hartsfield-Jackson unveiled the statue and announced the success of the automated external defibrillators as part of American Heart Month.

"The larger than life statue is just one of 40 red dress statues that are being displayed in diverse public, commercial and residential areas in cities across the United States as a reminder to men and women everywhere of the prevalence of heart disease in America," White said.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular diseases affect 1 of every 2.4 women in America. More than 500,000 women will die from heart disease this year in America.

"The American Heart Association and Tenet Georgia hope that this red dress will inspire women everywhere to take notice, take heart and take action to live a longer, healthier life," White said. "Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association's national call for women to take charge of their health and live stronger, healthier lives. The goal of the campaign is to empower women with the knowledge and tools they need to make positive lifestyle changes that will help reduce the No. 1 killer of women - heart disease."