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FOX Medical Team

Employees use AED to save WebMD employee

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ATLANTA -

What would you do if someone's life rested in your hands? Fortunately for Ken Esmark, his coworkers at WebMD jumped into action.

Esmark, WebMD's Director of Web Services, was 21 floors up, sitting in a meeting, when his heart suddenly stopped.

"The last thing I remember is I was talking to them... And then it was lights out. There was no pain, there was nothing," Esmark said.

The 62-year-old father of four, and grandfather, with no history of heart disease, was in sudden cardiac arrest.

"Basically, he was dead when we found him. His mouth was foaming, he was completely unresponsive, nothing was going on," said Dr. Michael Smith.

The only way to save Ken was to use an AED to shock his heart back into a normal rhythm. WebMD had put one in on Ken's floor a year ago, but Ken's boss Dr. Michael Smith, an internist, hadn't used a defibrillator in years.  

"It's just, you know, that this is someone's life.  You have to save this person's life.  For him, for his family," Smith said.

Smith grabbed the AED.

"Put it on, walked us through it. We did end up shocking him, did CPR chest compressions for about 45 seconds," Smith said.

"I woke up on the floor and there was an EMT next to me and he was putting an oxygen mask on me," said Esmark. "And then he said, 'Can you stand up?'  I said, 'Sure!'"
 
Later in the emergency room,  "The doctor came over to me, and she said to me, 'This is the worst day of your life, but it's also the best.'  She said, 'You had cardiac arrest, but people generally don't make it.'  And she said, 'And you're in really good shape.'" said Esmark.

Many of Ken's coworkers are now taking an AED refresher course.

"Even though people had AED training, it was a little scary," Smith said.

But if you step in and render emergency assistance, Georgia's Good Samaritan law will protect you from being sued if something goes wrong.

And what happened has changed both men.

"The things that were important to me the day before? They weren't so important anymore," Esmark said.

"Whenever I go into a community place, I look for the AED.  I was at the airport the other day, walking down the terminal, I'm looking at where all the AED's are because now I realize, it could happen," Smith said.

If you're worried you would freeze in an emergency like this, the AED has a computerized voice that will tell you what to do step by step.

Esmark had an electrical problem with his heart that he's probably had all of his life. He now has an implanted defibrillator.

Eight days after his sudden cardiac arrest, he was back at work at WebMD.
 

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