2018-07-05 / Living

AED donated by the Thomas Smith Memorial Foundation saves Camp Copneconic staffer

By Ben Gagnon
810-452-2661* bgagnon@mihomepaper.com

Austin Poley displaying the AED device that saved his life Photo provided Austin Poley displaying the AED device that saved his life Photo provided FENTON — As one of Mid-Michigan’s largest summer youth camps, the YMCA’s Camp Copneconic prepares its staff for a wide variety of emergency situations.

On the afternoon of June 12, the camp’s preparedness was put to the test when one of its own faced a life threatening situation. During the first week of camp counselor training, 18-year-old Austin Poley suddenly collapsed during a drill.

Camp staffers quickly rushed to Poley’s aid, administering CPR and using one of the site’s Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) to revive him.

Poley’s heart started beating again on its own, and he was alert by the time paramedics arrived. He was then transported to the University of Michigan’s C.S Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, where he underwent extensive cardiac testing.

On June 23, 11 days after his medical emergency, Poley received a defibrillator implant and was discharged shortly thereafter. It was determined that the Jackson County native had sustained a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)—which would have claimed his life had it not been for the quick actions of Camp Copneconic staff and the AED they used.

According to the American Heart Association, SCA occurs when the heart stops pumping blood through the body because of a malfunction in its electrical system. Unlike a heart attack, in which the heart usually continues to beat normally, SCA causes an abnormal rhythm. This abrupt disruption, known as ventricular fibrillation, causes the heart muscles to twitch or quiver instead of beat.

For someone to survive an SCA, they must receive immediate CPR and an electrical shock from an AED that will stop an abnormal rhythm and return the heart to its normal beating.

Thankfully for Poley, the Flushing-based Thomas Smith Memorial Foundation had donated 2 AEDs to Camp Copneconic in July 2016.

At the time, the camp had just one AED on site to cover its sprawling 700 acres. When Mary E. Smith, President of the Thomas Smith Memorial Foundation, learned about this, she and fellow board members decided to donate two additional AEDs so there would be three locations in case of a cardiac emergency.

The Thomas Smith Memorial Foundation, a non-profit organization, regularly raises funds to provide local hospitals with mobile cardiac equipment. The charity’s goals are to ensure that middle and high school students have access to free heart screenings, and to provide early detection and education for teenage heart ailments.

For more information about the Thomas Smith Memorial Foundation, visit TommysHeart.org

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