November 26, 2002
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BOSTON, Nov. 25 (AP) - Michael Tighe, who pushed for the installation of defibrillators in buildings around Boston, is grateful that someone saw a need for the cardiac equipment on planes.
Last week, when Mr. Tighe, 62, went into cardiac arrest on an American Airlines flight from Boston to Los Angeles, he became the first person on a domestic flight to have his life saved by a defibrillator.
Mr. Tighe, director of community relations for the Boston Public Health Commission, recalled little of the incident this week from his hospital room in Denver. "I was watching a movie, and I just drifted off," he said. "I don't remember anything."
His wife, Dolores, was alerted to the emergency by the way his arm was hanging from his side. Mrs. Tighe, a nurse, immediately began performing CPR, and flight attendants soon arrived with the defibrillator. After five electric shocks revived him, they turned Mr. Tighe's care over to a doctor who was on the plane. The flight was then diverted to Denver, where Mr. Tighe was hospitalized.
In July 1997 American, a subsidiary of the AMR Corporation, became the first domestic airline to install the devices, which are about the size of a laptop computer and cost $3,000 to $3,500 each.
American has since used the devices on five other people, including two who were revived at airport gates. Mr. Tighe was the first to receive the shock treatment in-flight and survive, an airline spokesman, Chris Chiames, said.
The defibrillator used on Mr. Tighe had been installed only three days earlier. Of American's 650 aircraft, about three-quarters have been outfitted with the equipment. The airline expects to finish the fleet by March.
Similar installations have been announced by Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, a subsidiary of UAL, which is being sued by the widow of a passenger who died of a heart attack. The devices are not required by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Some international carriers, including Qantas and Virgin Atlantic, have carried defibrillators for years.
As part of his duties at the public health commission, Mr. Tighe has been campaigning to promote the use of defibrillators in office buildings and malls.
Without a defibrillator, the chances of surviving cardiac arrest are no more than 5 percent.
As an aside, it was brought my attention that this article is wrong. Mr. Tighe was not the first person to have his life saved by a defibrillator on an airline. This is the Medline abstract of "Use of Automated External Defibrillators by a U.S. Airline" (American) in the NEJM two years ago.
The summary: AED used in 200 patients, defibrillation advised appropriately in 14, and the rate of survival to hospital discharge in patients who were defibrillated was 40 percent. Compared to 5 percent or less.Posted by at December 01, 2002 10:17 AM