On June 22, Leroy Essick’s heart stopped. Thanks to the quick response from Mercy Medical Center employees and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED), Essick’s heart is beating again. He can’t recall how long he suffered from shoulder pain, but he says it happened off and on for some time. “Anytime I would get discomfort, I’d take cayenne pepper,” Essick recalls. “And when I’d break out into a cold sweat, I’d have to lay down.” But this past spring the pain worsened, and Essick says it started to go down his arm. “I didn’t have a family doctor, so I visited my wife’s family physician,” Essick says. He didn’t have chest pain, but his physician ordered an EKG. The results were normal. Essick was prescribed nitroglycerine, and a stress test was scheduled for June 26 at Mercy Medical Center in Canton. The morning of June 22 was the start to a busy day as Essick prepared for a family reunion to take place at his home. His children were in town, and he worked outside in the garden and yard. Then the pain hit with more severity in his shoulders, down his arm and into his back. Eventually Essick told his son he needed to go to the emergency room. Upon arriving at Mercy Medical Center, Essick says he was thirsty, so he stopped in Mercy Cafeteria for a drink of water. “After leaving the cafeteria, I handed my son the glass of water and said, ‘I’m going down.’ I was on the floor with 100 percent blockage in one of my arteries,” Essick says. A code was called at the hospital, and the response was rapid. One of the first responders was Mike DeOrio, Mercy Security Services, who came with an AED or automated external defibrillator. An AED is a device used to administer an electric shock through the chest wall to the heart. The device has built-in computers that assess the victim’s heart rhythm, judge whether defibrillation is needed, and then administer the shock. Essick underwent a procedure performed by a Mercy cardiologist to open and stent the artery, which was 100 percent occluded. Two days later he was discharged for home. Essick is thankful for the rapid response, which saved his life. “Thank you to all the employees, people and staff at Mercy Medical Center involved in giving me a second chance to enjoy life with my wife Darlene, sons and grandchildren,” Essick says.
The goal with an AED is to provide access to defibrillation when needed as quickly as possible. Studies have shown CPR and AEDs can dramatically increase survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest. For more information about AEDs and AED training, visit the American Heart Association’s AED Resources site.