Cardiologist partners with local businesses to help save lives in eastern Idaho
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IDAHO FALLS — A local cardiologist is on a mission to help heart attack victims improve the odds of living through this often deadly event.
Dr. Blake Wachter, a cardiologist with the Idaho Heart Institute, is partnering with AlphaGraphics and local public agencies to supply police cars and other public places with automated external defibrillators. Wachter’s nonprofit Idaho Heart Foundation is hoping to raise $10,000 by the end of the month for 15 devices.
The foundation is also fundraising for a newly formed support group for people with heart problems.
AEDs are portable devices that allow a person administering CPR to place a pad on a victim’s bare chest. The device analyzes the rhythm of the heart and delivers an electric shock as necessary to stimulate the heart until help arrives.
“AlphaGraphics has agreed to match the funds donated during the month of February to help us achieve their $10,000 goal this month,” the fundraiser’s GoFundMe page states.
Donald Day, a survivor of heart failure whose life was saved with the use of an AED, is grateful the device was available to first responders when he collapsed last year.
“I had an irregular heartbeat that I knew about, but I never had any other signs that something was wrong,” Day tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Day was with his daughter and son-in-law in Leslie, 18 miles northwest of Arco, in April. He went to church with them on Sunday. They arrived early and sat down in the foyer for a bit. As he got up to walk into the chapel, he collapsed.
“I remember standing up in the foyer, but I don’t remember walking into the chapel,” Day says. “From what I was told, as soon as I sat down, I fell back into the guy’s lap behind me.”
The man who caught him happened to be an EMT. Day’s daughter called to a lady in the congregation who was a nurse. She went to get an AED that she owned out of her car. They started CPR while someone called 911.
Day was loaded into the ambulance when it arrived. EMTs continued CPR with a separate AED. Day says the devices delivered a shock to his heart nine times from the time he collapsed to the moment he arrived at the hospital in Arco.
“Just as they pulled in to the Arco hospital, the nurse said they hit me again the ninth time, and I opened my eyes,” Day says.
From there, Day was flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls, where he was diagnosed with ventricle fibrillation. VFib is a serious condition associated with a heart attack that can lead to death if not treated promptly by a device such as a AED and CPR, according to Wachter.
Doctors inserted a pacemaker into Day’s heart with a built-in “shocker,” as he called it, to jolt his heart back into activity should it ever stop again.
“I was in the hospital for about a week and have pretty much recovered back to normal,” Day says.
The Idaho Heart Foundation isn’t just helping people by buying AEDs, though. Members of the foundation are also working to support people like Day find help after they’ve suffered a cardiac event.
Heart 2 Heart Support Group
Local heart transplant recipient Jake Gilbert recently created the Heart 2 Heart support group to help survivors of heart failure or other heart conditions. His goal is to help patients and their loved ones learn how to adapt to a new lifestyle.
The group meets the first and third Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m. inside a medical office building east of EIRMC at 2860 Channing Way. He works closely with Wachter in this effort, as the Idaho Heart Foundation heavily supports the group.
“I like the idea of patients helping patients,” Wachter says.
Later this year, Wachter is hoping to also supply AEDs to schools, businesses, and parks as well as hold CPR training sessions at different companies in town.
Wachter is reminding people a smartphone app launched by the city of Idaho Falls last spring allows users to locate the nearest AED. It also provides instructions on how to perform CPR. Click here to download the app.
If you’d like to support the cause, click here to make a donation.
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