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AEDs, medical services ready to save lives at Airport
By Roishina C. Henderson

If you experience cardiac arrest at Hartsfield-Jackson, your chances of survival are great, thanks to more than 200 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) throughout the Airport.

The Airport also has a highly trained emergency medical services (EMS) staff on hand 24 hours a day, ready to save a life.

Hartsfield-Jackson averages up to 10,000 medical emergency calls in a year, said Jimmy Gittens, Hartsfield-Jackson’s EMS chief, who has more than 17 years of experience as an emergency medical services professional.

Within just a month, Gittens recalled, two lives were saved because of easily accessible defibrillators and the Airport’s expert medical teams. On May 28, a 59-year-old man was revived after two shocks with the AED restored his pulse, Gittens said. On June 27, a bystander performed CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on someone who became unconscious before being treated by EMS personnel.

Those are just two of the many cases in which people have experienced cardiac arrest or other life-threatening conditions and have been saved at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Hartsfield-Jackson has five fire and emergency stations throughout its property and three ambulances. The EMS staff have radios that enable them to respond to all emergency calls, and there is a mobile medic response team, known as the “bike team.”

The EMS professionals are also firefighters, and they all receive ongoing training and education, Gittens said. All paramedics go through advanced life support training every two years.

“The work we do is more of a calling,” Gittens said. “You really can’t express it in words, because words would be too cheap. It’s a very rewarding job. The impact we have on people’s lives is astronomical.”

Hartsfield-Jackson’s Landside Operations unit, which works around the clock, also plays a part in medical emergencies.

“We confirm emergency medical services are dispatched, assist with crowd management at the scene and restore the area to normal operations as soon as the Fire Department has treated the patient,” said Chris Warner, Aviation Landside Operations manager. “If an AED is used, we make sure a new one is placed in the cabinet. Operations normally only responds to heart attacks, escalator falls and any emergency that would affect the normal operations of the Airport.”

All Airport Landside Operations staff members are CPR-certified and trained to use the AEDs. Warner said all Customer Service employees also are being trained.

Gittens said that quick access to the defibrillators is a critical component in saving a life.

“The key is having people recognize when someone is going down,” he said. “It’s important to get to the person within those first few minutes. Once you get a flat line, there’s no chance — or a rare chance — of bringing them back.”

Operating a defibrillator:

  • Turn the machine on.
  • Listen to and follow the directions given by the automated voice.
  • Place the pads where the voice prompts you. (There will be a diagram.)
  • Stand clear and be ready to shock if instructed.

Ben DeCosta with Atlanta Motor Speedway reps

This AED is near an entrance to Terminal North. There are more than 200 of these throughout Hartsfield-Jackson.

NASCAR Vehicle

AEDs throughout the Airport, such as this one near Bistro del Sol in the Atrium, are clearly marked with a sign perpendicular to the wall so that they can be spotted quickly in an emergency.

© 2009 Hartsfield-Jackson News. A Publication from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. All rights reserved.

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