After an 18-month-long process, Metrolink trains now have automated external defibrillators, including those on the Antelope Valley line, which serves the Santa Clarita Valley.
An AED is a lightweight, portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart to treat someone experiencing a cardiac emergency.
“Time is critical for someone facing cardiac arrest,” said Bud Lawrence, MD, medical director of the emergency department at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. “If you’re on a train, it may be up to 30 minutes until paramedics can respond. You may be fortunate enough for a bystander to help, but the ideal case is the first person that can help with electricity to zap your heart back into rhythm. The faster that can happen, the more they can help save more brain cells.”
The highlight of this technology is that anyone without medical training can use the device.
“AEDs are incredibly useful and you don’t have to be a trained medical professional,” added Lawrence. “Anyone who can read instructions can use it because the machine will guide you through every step.”
The addition of these life-saving devices comes as a result of the California Legislature’s 2018 passage of Senate Bill 502, which requires commuter rail systems across the state to have AEDs installed.
In April, the Metrolink board of directors authorized the expenditure of $207,600 for the purchase and placement of 57 AEDs on all trains in the agency’s six-county service region, according to Metrolink spokesman Paul Gonzales.
More than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital setting annually in the United States and using an AED within the first minute can save 9 in 10 victims, according to the American Heart Association.
“We want to ensure the safety of our riders and our team members and that is why we have partnered with the powerful resources of the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross,” Metrolink CEO Stephanie Wiggins said in a statement. “AEDs can be found on our trains, in the workplace, in restaurants and many places. Knowing how to correctly use an AED can turn anyone into a life-saving hero.”
For training on AEDs and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, visit the American Heart Association website at heart.org/handsonlycpr.