Hawai`i Volcanoes News Release
On Sunday, February 26, 2006, at about 12:45 pm, an 80-year old male visitor from Richmond, Virginia collapsed on the trail after exiting the Thurston Lava Tube.
Two park visitors, both doctors, happened by and immediately initiated CPR.
Within minutes, three park rangers arrived on scene with a portable defibrillator. The rangers applied electrodes to the unconscious man’s chest and the battery-powered device delivered three powerful jolts. The man’s heart responded and began to beat with a regular rhythm. Rangers reported he quickly regained consciousness.
The man was transported by Hawai‘i County ambulance to Hilo Medical Center for further evaluation and treatment.
The automated external defibrillator, or AED, is a proven life saver and the unit’s $2000 purchase price is money well spent. Hawai`i Volcanoes has seven units. The goal is to have an AED in every ranger patrol car and visitor contact station, and continue to train staff in its use.
In sudden cardiac arrest, the heart lapses into a chaotic, useless rhythm (called ventricular fibrillation) and stops pumping blood. A heart in ventricular fibrillation must be shocked back into a normal rhythm, or the person will usually die.
This is the second time that rangers have revived a heart attack victim with an AED in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.
In July 2002, a 67-year old California man parked his car at the end of the Chain of Craters Road and started walking through thick volcanic fumes towards the ocean entry lava flow. He hadn’t made it very far before he collapsed and slumped to the ground.
Two park visitors, a nurse and doctor, happened by and attempted to revive the man who had stopped breathing through CPR. Fortunately, park rangers arrived soon after and hooked him up to an AED. After three jolts, his heart began to beat regularly. He was treated at Hilo Medical Center and returned home to California.
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Last updated: February 28, 2015