Logan International Airport in Boston may be one of the safest airports in the world—should you suffer sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) while traveling. Logan was one of the first airports to install automated external defibrillators (AEDs) as far back as 1996. More recently, the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), which owns and operates Logan, undertook a technology upgrade and installed over 170 ZOLL AED Plus® units throughout Logan and the other transportation facilities it operates in Massachusetts.
Today, Logan can boast that over the past year it has achieved a 75 percent survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest. “That’s triple the national average,” said Chief Robert Donahue, who heads Massport Fire and Rescue. “The safety and security of the tens of millions of passengers who use Logan each year and the 12,000 people who work here are our top priority.”
Logan is also at the forefront of cardiac defibrillator training. To date, over 50 percent of Logan’s workforce—some 8,000 employees—have been trained to use the AED Plus as part of Massport’s ongoing training program, which includes first aid, CPR and AEDs. That’s a “force multiplier,” according to Donahue, because most cardiac arrests at Logan are witnessed events.
The AED Plus units are dispersed throughout the airport in high-volume areas at intervals that are no greater than a 90-second brisk walk. Signage is very conspicuous. When a cardiac arrest event is reported, a call goes out over the public address system signaling the victim’s location to the four EMS rescue stations at Logan; Massport Fire and Rescue mobilizes a rapid response ambulance crew to be at the scene in less than three minutes. Logan also has the advantage of the resources of Boston’s large medical community. From Logan, SCA victims can be transported to some of the
best hospitals in the world within two minutes.
That systematic approach, and Boston’s robust hospital network, paid off in life-saving dividends for 48-year-old computer programmer, Doug Hale, whose SCA was witnessed by two transportation security officers Massport had trained. Both TSA officers and a passenger, an off-duty police officer, jumped to his aid with CPR and an AED Plus. Fire dispatch arrived in three minutes, shocked Hale, and continued CPR. He was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was treated with therapeutic hypothermia and then sent to rehab for a few weeks.
After his recovery, Hale and his wife came back to Logan to publicly thank his rescuers for saving his life.
“What happened to me is testament to how critical having AEDs in public places can be,” said Doug Hale. “And having one that coaches rescuers with visual and audio prompts through a life-saving event gives rescuers assurances when every second is vital.”
Doug’s wife, Tammy, a dental hygienist trained in CPR and AEDs, witnessed the event. “It seemed the rescuers were there almost immediately and hooked Doug up to the AED so fast. The AED Plus coached them every step of the way—where to place the electrodes, when the compressions weren’t deep enough. This was so critical because when you are usually doing compressions, you are blind to how effective they are.”
“Anyone could use this AED. It was so simple, not like the one I was trained on,” she added. “We’re grateful this happened in Boston because we might have had a different outcome if it had happened someplace else.”
“We’re proud of our Chain of Survival; it’s the best of any airport in the world,“ said Deputy Chief Costa. “Having Doug and his wife, Tammy, come back to Logan to thank us meant so much to us. Being able to save someone’s life, does it get any better than that?”