ELDORADO -- Imagine your heart stops.
Or someone else's does.
It's not a pleasant thought, but it can happen for a variety of reasons, whether it's the result of heart disease, an injury or an unexpected allergic reaction.
Today, though, people in that unexpected situation have a better chance of surviving because of automatic external defibrillators, or AEDs. On Tuesday, Staci Hodges from the Heart Hospital in Evansville, Indiana, told Eldorado Rotary Club members how the devices work and dispelled some incorrect ideas about the machines.
"An AED is designed for a person who has no knowledge of health care to use in the event someone's heart stops," Hodges told club members. "It's designed for the everyday person."
The basic function of an AED is to shock a heart that has stopped or is not beating properly so that the affected person regains proper cardiac function, Hodges said.
The Heart Hospital works with various groups and organizations to help place more AEDs in places where they can be used if needed.
"In the past three years, we've placed 205 throughout the tri-state area, especially for nonprofit organizations and in places of high need," Hodges said.
Currently, 129 groups or locations are on a list. Hodges said she knew specifically of two people whose lives were saved because of the devices.
She gave a short demonstration with a trainer model and explained that in the event one is needed, the machines are designed to walk the user through the defibrillation process.
Some AEDs have a screen with instructions that the user will read, while others have a speaker and will play the directions.
She also said that while some people fear accidental use of an AED, like children opening the device, an AED will not shock a person's heart unless the heart is not beating or is in an improper cardiac rhythm.
"The technology inside one of these devices is very advanced," she said. "If someone's heart doesn't need shocked, then it can't administer a shock."
Hodges said groups interested in obtaining a device can contact the Heart Hospital at (812) 842-3472.