PENDLETON — Randy Miller does not remember April 28, 2013, but it was a date that almost became etched on his tombstone.
“All I know is what people tell me happened,” Miller said. “I don’t have any memory of it.”
Miller, 65, was sitting around a table with his wife and son after a long day at an auction when he suddenly collapsed.
His heart stopped.
His breathing followed.
Each minute after that became moments between life and death.
Miller’s wife, Sarah, started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and 911 was called, but living in a rural part of Madison County meant it would take time for help to respond.
The events that would eventually help to save Miller’s life actually began 12 years before that fateful night on April 28.
In 2001, Madison County S.A.V.E.S. (Supporting Activities of Vital Emergency Services) was discussed within the community.
Within a year, it would be created through Community Hospital Anderson and the Community Hospital Anderson Foundation would help to provide automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in Madison County Sheriff’s Department vehicles, schools, libraries and businesses throughout the community.
An AED helped to save Miller’s life.
There are now 102 AEDs in Madison County and Holly Renz, a registered nurse and the program director for S.A.V.E.S., said the devices make a difference.
“For every minute you are without an AED you reduce your chance of survival by 10 percent,” she said. “In 10 minutes you are dead.”
Most of the emergency responders in the rural portion of the county are volunteers, Renz said, which means response times can be longer. Equipping the sheriff deputy vehicles with the equipment increases the likelihood a person can be saved with an AED.
The AEDs installed in public places such as schools, government sites and businesses are also available for the public to use in the event of an emergency.
“They are foolproof,” Renz said. “They won’t shock you if you don’t need it and the good Samaritan law protects you if you use it in good faith.
“It’s a win, win situation for everyone.”
The AEDs are automated and, when opened, will verbally guide users on how to use them properly.
Keith Trent, vice president and chief foundation officer for Community Hospital Anderson, said while the majority of the funding to place the AEDs around the community came from the hospital’s foundation, public and private funds were also used including a $5,000 grant from the Madison County Community Foundation.
The cost for an AED is between $1,200 and $1,500.
Events are used to raise funds for new and outdated AEDs including the “Chefs Boy R We” where 60 chefs prepared food samples for 350 guests.
“We just felt like we were meeting a need in our community that might not have been there otherwise,” Trent said.
The Miller family along with others who have been saved by an AED can appreciate the foundation’s commitment.
Miller says he was fortunate to be able to tell his story of survival.
“It doesn’t always work that way,” he said. “It was really in God’s hands.”
Having AEDs in the vehicles of the Madison County sheriff’s deputies is reassuring, he said.
He is also thankful to be alive.
“I just look at life differently,” he said. “I feel very blessed and each day is special for me.”
Like Traci L. Moyer on Facebook and follow her @moyyer on Twitter, or call 648-4250.
A heartbeat away According to the American Red Cross, improved training and access to automated external defibrillators (AEDs) could save 50,000 lives each year. More than 350,000 people will suffer from sudden cardiac arrest this year where an AED could help to restore a regular heart rhythm. The Red Cross says the average response time for first responders once 911 is called is 8-12 minutes, but the chance of survival is reduced by 10 percent each minute defibrillation is delayed. Source: American Red Cross