LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- October is national Sudden Cardiac Arrest month. Each year in the United States about 500,000 children and adults experience a cardiac arrest and less than 15 percent survive, according to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association.
"I was 50 years old, had been feeling totally fine, had no awareness of any problem with my heart," said Dr. Cheri Olson, a physician at Mayo Clinic Health System.
But while seeing a patient one day, Dr. Olson suffered a sudden cardiac arrest.
"I walked in to see her, started the examination, the discussion and fell over dead," she said.
Dr. Olson's quick thinking staff ran to the lobby, grabbed the AED, an automatic external defibrillator, and revived her before the crash carts could arrive from the hospital.
"It can happen to any age person and it can happen to any health person, doesn't have to be a heart attack," Dr. Olson said.
In the five years since her episode, Dr. Olson's devoted her time to increasing the survival rate of victims of sudden cardiac arrest, as the president of the Seven Rivers Chapter of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association. The group helps businesses and organization acquire AEDs, which cost about $1200.
"Public access defibrillator sand public access CPR are the two main components that help save lives," said Assistant Chief Warren Thomas of the La Crosse Fire Department and member of the Seven River Chapter. "The first two minutes of a cardiac arrest call are the most important."
"We'll help track people's defibrillators to make sure the batteries are staying up to date and the pads are current and we can help people reorder those," Dr. Olson said.
In 2012, the organization trained more than 1000 people in CPR and AED use.
"Statistics show cardiac survival rates in the seven rivers area, are above the national standard for cardiac survival," Thomas said.
"For me it's just such a blessing to be given a second chance at life, to be able to see people who survive, to know people, to be able to give back to the community," Dr. Olson said.
Another goal of the Seven Rivers Chapter of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association is to recognize those who save someone using an AED or CPR. On Saturday, about 70 citizens and first responders will be honored at the hero's celebration.
And if you're interested in getting an AED for your business or organization you can click here.
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