Open Letter to Thieves that are stealing Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)
Do you have a grandma or grandpa, an elderly or ill relative? Do you have a sibling who plays sports at school? Do you or those you know and care about attend events in public places, concerts, arenas, gymnasiums? Since you’ve chosen the path of stealing, here is a lesson that should serve to educate you on the real consequences of your actions when you steal an AED.
An AED is a life saving medical device that is REQUIRED to deliver the shock to a person’s heart that has stopped and who collapses from sudden cardiac arrest. The victim (someone’s grandma, grandpa, sibling, parent, loved one) has about 5 minutes from the time they collapse to their demise unless the AED is accessible and delivers the shock within that limited time. When you steal an AED you are stealing much more than a medical device. The AED gives a SCA victim their second chance at life. When you steal an AED, you are in effect stealing a life. Is the few hundred dollars that you may be able to get on the black market worth it to you? Stealing is never right – Stealing a life not something you want to live with.
You may think you know it all; you may think that you’re scamming the system; you may think you’re pretty clever. Here is a lesson in what you do not know and what will hopefully cause you to rethink whether your actions are really how you want to live the life you have.
Organizations know the value of providing this device and in some cases have only been able to purchase it after fundraising events and donations allow. These donations are often from people who have lost someone to sudden cardiac arrest. There are thousands of stories on the internet about families losing a loved one to this disease. They set up foundations in their loved one’s name. Their mission becomes making sure that they do all they can do to ensure that no one else has to suffer the pain and loss they have.
Were you the thief that stole 6 Cardiac Science Powerheart G3 AEDs from Solano Community College in California? The security officer at the college reported in one case, the entire cabinet was ripped off the wall and stolen, along with the AED. But, the rest were yours for the taking. You opened the cabinet because there was no lock (locking a cabinet with a life saving device in it is counterproductive and those that understand the power of the AED want it to be accessible to anyone), and you helped yourself to the device that is used to give someone the gift of life. The college has had to secure their remaining AEDs which may mean that if someone collapses and the AED cannot be located and brought to their side within 5 minutes, that life will be lost.
Were you the thief that stole the Zoll AED Plus from a police officer’s car in Rib Mountain, WI? Many communities are enabling police officers to carry AEDs in their patrol vehicles as they are often the first responder at a medical emergency like sudden cardiac arrest?
Were you the thief that stole the Defibtech Lifeline AED from Our Lady of Lourdes School in Decatur, IL? The school provided the AED for the safety and well being of their students, faculty and parents who attend events, games, etc. They had to find room in their budget to purchase a replacement AED. They have not yet had to use the AED, but they know if it is needed, it’s available to save someone’s life.
The list of stolen AED stories goes on and on. Hopefully, by now, you are realizing that choices you’ve made have ramifications beyond your narrow view.
A person that collapses due to sudden cardiac arrest stops breathing. They are in effect dead, but if an AED is used within 5 minutes of their collapse they may get a precious second chance at life. Only one out of 20 people who have sudden cardiac arrest survive and it is because an AED has not been brought to their side within the 5 or so minutes that they have before it is too late. These medical devices are put up in visible, accessible locations so that in the event they are needed, they can be accessed within a minute or two.
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death among adults over the age of 40 in the United States and other countries. In the United States alone, approximately 250,000 people die every year from SCA, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, more people die each year from SCA than the number who die from colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, auto accidents, AIDS, firearms, and house fires combined. SCA also affects many young people. Approximately 10 percent of SCA events occur among people less than 40 years of age.
When you steal an AED, here are some additional facts that you may not have been aware of. AEDs are medical equipment that have specific and unique serial numbers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that manufacturers of these life saving medical devices report where each and every device is at all times. There are several reasons for this important tracking procedure. If it comes to the attention of a certain manufacturer that one of their devices is faulty, they must be able to reach each customer, organization, person that has the particular model and correct the identified issue. When AEDs are stolen, tracking information on these devices is lost. AEDs have accessories with expiration dates. An AED requires the use of electrodes or pads on the victim, whether it is an adult or a child. There is a gel substance in the electrode that only operates for a limited period of time. The batteries have a limited life, and must be replaced in a timely manner. AEDs that fall out of the watchful eye of the FDA can be worthless devices if it comes time to be called into action and proper maintenance has not been performed.
Actions have consequences. Stealing is wrong, but stealing an AED is taking something that is truly not yours to take – a human life.