BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. – It’s a little box you may not even notice in many public places. What is inside of the box is lifesaving. AEDs, or automated external defibrillators, shock the heart when someone is having a cardiac event and can save their life even before help arrives, as was the case for Howard Campbell.
“Well, if I didn’t go to church that morning, even though I didn't feel good, I wouldn't have been here,” Campbell said.
Campbell didn't feel good on Sunday, February 9 because his heart was about to give out. It was at Good Shepherd Christian Church in Blue Springs during the minister's sermon when he leaned over to his wife.
“I asked her, ‘am I sweating?’ The last thing I remember, she turned to me and she said, ‘not very much.' And the next thing I remember was people beating the snot out of me with CPR,” said Campbell.
He collapsed and people who had been trained to use an AED took lifesaving action.
“They went and retrieved the AED and placed it on him and basically followed the directions of the AED, which indicated that they should shock Mr. Campbell,” said paramedic trainer Michael Wallace. “Once they shocked Mr. Campbell, they followed the prompts on the AED, which told them to start compressions and provided feedback to them on whether they were pressing fast enough or deep enough.”
“The first thing I said when I woke up was, ‘don't beat on me. It hurts!'’ said Campbell.
He is now recovering from that near fatal cardiac event and has made it his mission to spread the word about the importance of AEDs in churches and public places. He said the very same day as his life was saved, a man in another church wasn't so lucky.
“And the same thing happened to him, they did not have one and they buried him three days later,” Campbell said.
The AEDs cost about $1,800. Campbell is afraid the pushback from churches to spend that kind of money will cost lives. He knows he wouldn’t be alive without the AED.
“No, I wouldn't, there's no doubt in my mind. Well, no doubt in the doctor's mind, either,” he said.
Paramedic trainers want to be sure to get the word out that everyone should be trained on the use of AEDs. The course costs about $40.
Campbell learned the AED that saved his life was installed only six months earlier after a fellow parishioner named Bill Monday passed away. Monday’s wife used memorial money to donate the AED to the church.
“I did not realize that the cost for this was given by Bill Monday’s memorial,” said Campbell, who said the revelation was humbling. Now he’s on a crusade to make sure that churches and other public places are readily equipped with an AED in the event of an emergency.
“My deal is if I can convince churches, ministers, institutions, organizations to invest in this and it saves one life, then I've paid it back,” said Campbell.