Thu, 19 June, 2008

AED saves young man's life

AED saves young man's life
FLORA - Marcus Collins was working a construction job with his stepdad on May 29 when a freak accident sent a powerful electrical current through his 154-pound body.

It was an electrical shock so strong that Collins, 20, a Natchitoches Central Louisiana High School graduate, would be dead today if it weren't for a combination of events that saved his life.

"I'm thankful for my second chance," Collins said Monday, June 9, from his family home in Flora.

Collins' heart went into ventricular fibrillation after the cable he was holding became entangled with an exposed extension-cord wire that had been cut accidentally. Call it luck, divine intervention or a strong heart on a determined young man, Collins survived the ordeal.

It was 11:58 a.m. when the electrical current hit his body. The next minutes would prove the most important in his life.

Stepfather J.D. Bonds recognized something was terribly wrong when Collins let out a short yell and then went silent. Bonds grabbed his stepson's arm, but he was thrown back by a jolt of electricity. He went in again and somehow managed to pull Collins to a safe spot. He began performing CPR, remembering everything he learned in his American Heart Association certification training.

Co-worker James Ferguson called 911 and Collins' mother, Stephanie Bonds, before rushing back to help.

Natchitoches Sheriff's Sgt. Craig LaCour was paying his respects at a funeral when he got the alert that Collins was in danger. It was a strange call, seeing that LaCour had earlier stopped by the construction site and said hello to the crew.

In moments he was at the scene and rushed in with one of the Automated External Defibrillators supplied to the Sheriff's Office by The Rapides Foundation. Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Victor Jones said there are two AEDs on every patrol shift; luckily LaCour had one of them.

Natchitoches Regional Medical Center Emergency Medical Service paramedics soon arrived. Fortunately, the EMS is a part of a statewide trauma network called LERN, short for the Louisiana Emergency Response Network. It is designed to speed up the "chain of survival" by removing red tape traditionally required to get severely injured trauma patients transferred from small, rural hospitals to LSU Medical Center in Shreveport.

As a result, after being stabilized at Natchitoches Regional Medical Center, Collins was quickly placed in an ambulance and headed to Shreveport. A process that may have taken hours took less than one.

Collins remembers none of this. In fact, the man who looks more like a boy remembers waking up in a hospital room on Saturday - two days after his near-death experience. He remembers being confused and afraid that he couldn't walk. He could, and was home just a few days later.

Medical experts and his loved ones theorize that Collins' quick recovery is due to his young age and strong heart. With the exception of his lungs, which suffered some damage in the accident, Collins is in good shape and recuperating well.

"It's a miracle everything was in place," said stepdad J.D. Bonds.

Perhaps no one is happier about his rescue and quick recovery than Collins' mother. Stephanie Bonds said she was happy that her husband happened to be the first responder on the scene and that the AED was in LaCour's patrol unit. "It gave me back my son," she said.

Collins isn't sure why he was spared. But he does know that he's lucky to be alive, and for that reason he's looking at life a little differently. "I'm going to try to do everything that I can that I didn't do before," he said.

Collins is the 10th person alive today thanks to the AED Network of Central Louisiana and by far the youngest. The network is funded by The Rapides Foundation.

"It's rewarding to hear success stories like this one," said Joe Rosier, CEO of The Rapides Foundation. "We are pleased to be able to play a role in saving this young man's life."

More than 480 AEDs are in locations throughout Central Louisiana following a massive distribution that began in 2001. These lifesaving units are in public places - from churches and schools, to malls, office buildings, stadiums and other locations where large groups gather.

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that administers an electric shock through the chest wall during cardiac arrest.

The irony is not lost on anyone.

As Cathy Pittman, AED Network program director, put it: "Electricity almost took his life. Electricity is what brought him back."


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