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It's important to know where AEDs are located, how to use them

AED saved father of bride during wedding
Posted at 11:52 AM, May 23, 2017

CINCINNATI -- Ralla Shrit had just married her husband when she almost lost her father.

Ralla and her husband, Ronnie, recently celebrated their wedding at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza. The event was made of moments from the vows to the toasts, including one from her father.

"The last thing he said was me being his daughter made life worth living, and then he asked me to dance," Shrit said.

Just minutes later, her dad was fighting for his life. An Automated External Defibrillator, or AED, was key to saving him.

But WCPO found the devices aren't required by law in most public places -- and many employees don't even know if their businesses have one.

'It seemed like it took forever'

Shrit first noticed trouble when it came time to cut her wedding cake.

"My family is of Middle Eastern origin and in our traditions, when you cut the cake, everyone comes up. It's a big deal," Shrit said. "And I noticed no one was around us."

Instead, the guests were around her dad. A short time after their dance, he went into cardiac arrest.

Fortunately, many of the guests were doctors and they started CPR immediately. She and other people in the room also called for an AED. Automated External Defibrillators deliver a shock that can reset the heart.

Though the hotel is not required to have one, the Hilton general manager said an AED is kept in the lobby.

The wedding was on the third floor. CPR continued for what Shrit and guests estimate was a period of 8 to 10 minutes before someone brought the AED into the room.

"We know the minute you start CPR, you keep a timer," she said.

Once the AED arrived, two shocks brought Shrit's dad back from the brink. But she said those shocks should have come sooner.

"It seemed like it took forever to get an AED," she said.

Aditya Nagarajan, a wedding guest, recalled what a Hilton employee later said: "'A lot of people came asking for the defibrillator, and I didn't know where it was,'" Nagarajan said the employee told him. "'I was worried about him, and I'm glad to hear he's doing better.'"

The hotel's general manager said he wasn't aware of that conversation, but staff "responded as quickly as possible." The hotel is also reviewing the incident, he said.

Shrit said she doesn’t want anyone to get in trouble over what happened. She just wants people to know what an AED is and where AEDs are located.

"The goal isn't to punish people, it's to teach people," she said.

What if employees don't know?

WCPO checked 10 places in Cincinnati to see what emergency response mechanisms they had in place. Half of them didn't have an AED -- it's not required by law in Ohio for any public place but schools.

At City Hall, Meijer, the Hyatt Regency and LA Fitness, employees knew where they were.

At JACK Casino, they said EMT help was a radio call away.

Two people at the front desk of the Duke Energy Center didn't know where the AEDs were, but a manager pointed them out and said there would be some re-training.

"If you have one on premises, make sure folks know where it is," said Jeff Gaylor of the American Heart Association. "That's the first step: Know where your AED is at, know how to use it."

It could mean the difference between life and death when seconds count.

"An AED saved my dad's life," Shrit said.