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Home > Topics > Cardiac Care

Widow: Airline didn't use AED because of husband's hairy chest

A man died of a heart attack on a Southwest flight; his wife said there was a defibrillator on board but it wasn't used because her husband's chest was too hairy


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A man was flying from Los Angeles to Albuquerque when he died of a heart attack. His wife thinks his hairy chest had something to do with his death, however.

His wife said a defibrillator was on board but wasn't used because of her husband's hairy chest.

"The flight attendant that had been right up there with us said because his chest is too hairy," she said.

Read full storyWidow: Defibrillator not used because of husband's hairy chest

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Peter Hicklin Peter Hicklin Monday, September 01, 2014 11:11:07 AM There is someone who obviously failed their certification on the AED let alone their lack of caring about the man . :-P My Condolences to the wife . :-(
Joe Green Joe Green Monday, September 01, 2014 11:13:46 AM Keep duct tape with the AED, makes for a great hair removed, quickly.
Ivan Kanjer Ivan Kanjer Monday, September 01, 2014 11:18:22 AM isn't razor one of basic tools in aed package?
Jim Lawrence Jim Lawrence Monday, September 01, 2014 11:20:47 AM Tacky, but its an idea.
Jennifer Womack Jennifer Womack Monday, September 01, 2014 11:21:48 AM The AED pads themselves can be used to rip the hair off. Usually there are 2 sets in case of malfunction etc. Use one set to rip the hair off, then use the other as directed.
Chris Morris Chris Morris Monday, September 01, 2014 11:23:00 AM Died because he died
Padraic Lawless Padraic Lawless Monday, September 01, 2014 11:23:33 AM Are razors allowed in an aircraft cabin? Really sticky tape?
Tracy Morehouse Tracy Morehouse Monday, September 01, 2014 11:25:26 AM The razor that comes with the AED is crap. Using the pads to rip the hair off would be a better option.
Kevin Maceri Kevin Maceri Monday, September 01, 2014 11:34:28 AM The flight attendants at my airline are not even CPR certified from the last I heard. This should be mandatory.
Tom Isbell Tom Isbell Monday, September 01, 2014 11:35:18 AM Good Samaritan act
Brandon Prill Brandon Prill Monday, September 01, 2014 11:37:55 AM Without having been there i cannot monday morning quarterback this. I will say that its entirely possible that this widow has a great misunderstanding of how AEDs work. Also entirely possible that someone else genuinely did screw up and not shock, OR didn't apply pads very well/use the pads to wax the man in question. The overwhelming majority of us will never know as we were not there. I just think of how many people have little to no understanding of the functions of defibrillation in cardiac arrest, and think you can shock any dead person and get a walking, talking, totally coherent person back.
John Overton Lewis III John Overton Lewis III Monday, September 01, 2014 11:51:21 AM That's just miseducation and a misunderstanding. Airlines should hire medics to fly
Lovely Smith Lovely Smith Monday, September 01, 2014 11:55:59 AM Wow They Could Of Saved His Life... If They Was Thinking on there feet like EMS Provider Was Thought Then He May Have Had A Chance
Megan-Josh Chestnut Megan-Josh Chestnut Monday, September 01, 2014 11:59:24 AM As an example u could have used pediatric pads off hair then placed correct pads to administer correct joules. Anything is better than nothing. Time is tissues people. Poor guy.
Steven Kelly Steven Kelly Monday, September 01, 2014 12:16:40 PM Most kits come with a razor as well she should be fired
Scott Davison Scott Davison Monday, September 01, 2014 12:30:18 PM from my experience most AED come with a small razor just for this purpose or at least those at my job and my fire dept all came with one
E Dian Cantrell E Dian Cantrell Monday, September 01, 2014 12:55:41 PM so modern medicine with ALL it's advancements and innovations... have not come up with anything that might help a person with a "hairy" chest? As a person is dying, "oops...cannot administer ANY first aide...we must first shave your chest...sorry" good freaking grief...THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO OTHER WAY TO HELP THIS MAN????
Jeremy Naser Jeremy Naser Monday, September 01, 2014 12:56:28 PM Most AEDs I've seen in public places keep a razor in the case just to be sure there aren't situations like this. And worse case scenario use the second set of pads to wax the man's chest.
Percy Wise Percy Wise Monday, September 01, 2014 1:05:05 PM I teach that class and you can shock with hair the chance of that happening is low
Bill Keenan Bill Keenan Monday, September 01, 2014 1:19:33 PM But only use this as a last resort if needed or double check all your pads before hand. I know someone who did that once and then when they got the 2nd set of pads to hook into the AED the wire on the clean pads was damaged so they were not able to administer the shock.
Shelly Wilson Shelly Wilson Monday, September 01, 2014 1:41:35 PM Very punny, Jim.
Roger Ramirez Roger Ramirez Monday, September 01, 2014 1:47:17 PM Doesn't surprise me .... back to training and possible law think?
Jim Lawrence Jim Lawrence Monday, September 01, 2014 1:50:08 PM What can I say Shelly, I was an EMT in Southern California. And sometimes we did come across this. I think the difference was we did this all the time and the airlines usually don't. So they probably either didn't think about it at the time they could do anymore, and/or they probably were concerned if they did any shaving of his chest, someone may get into trouble. Especially if someone "nicked him". But I think if any kudos, it should go to Joe for thinking about the duct tape.
Michelle Lahosky Marshall Michelle Lahosky Marshall Monday, September 01, 2014 2:48:10 PM Ummm....disposable razor in the AED pack.
Nitoy Ni Nitoy Ni Monday, September 01, 2014 3:05:38 PM and inside the AED is a razor. wtf?
Shelly Wilson Shelly Wilson Monday, September 01, 2014 3:35:29 PM Jim Lawrence ...I was merely referring to your use of the word "tacky" while giving kudos to Joe for his duct tape (tape is very tacky, especially duct tape crossed with exam gloves). As for the idea in general, I do give kudos to Joe Green for alternatives to razors for Unresponsive patients ;)
Dave Murtagh Dave Murtagh Monday, September 01, 2014 3:37:26 PM AED's include a spare set of pads for a reason... well not that reason probably but it likely would have done...
Sheldon Guenther Sheldon Guenther Monday, September 01, 2014 3:43:58 PM First, agreeing with Brandon, we weren't there so I won't judge those who were. Second, I'm not aware of AEDs coming with two sets of pads or razors. I've been involved in the purchase of over 20 for various businesses and in every case, the razor, extra pads, etc, were always part of a "kit" that cost more than just the AED. I always recommend they buy the "kit" but some don't. Keep expired pads for the hair purpose maybe. Finally, and most importantly, along the lines of what Chris said, "EMS Observation #1 - People die." "EMS Observation #2 - You can't always prevent #1"
Harry Stone Harry Stone Monday, September 01, 2014 4:40:39 PM Or maybe it didn't advise shock and the widow recalls someone saying his chest was hairy and that's what she took from it.
Donnie Dempewolf Donnie Dempewolf Monday, September 01, 2014 4:46:42 PM Hard for some to understand. Death is undefeated.
Dan Greek Dan Greek Monday, September 01, 2014 5:55:47 PM Should always have a disposable razor in the case.
Dale Lash Dale Lash Monday, September 01, 2014 6:19:39 PM We keep razors in each of ours but aboard a plane they are deemed a dangerous device.
Stacey Pollard Stacey Pollard Monday, September 01, 2014 6:20:14 PM I remember being taught as a basic to always put a razor with the dfib.
Ann Merklin Ann Merklin Monday, September 01, 2014 7:50:12 PM What's wrong with THAT picture??? There are 2 sets of pads especially for that reason! Apply extra pads to hairy chest & rip them off! Hair is gone & so is that miserable excuse! Flight attendant needs more schooling on AED's! Comforting hugs to the widow . . . . <3
Donnie Dempewolf Donnie Dempewolf Monday, September 01, 2014 8:02:21 PM I like your enthusiasm, but It doesn't matter how hard you try. Death has a perfect record from the beginning of life in all species. Prove me wrong...
Alma Williams Alma Williams Monday, September 01, 2014 8:59:37 PM I am an LVN, and any CPR class I have had tells us to use the razor included in the AED unit to shave the areas needed. The laws in most states protect the administrator of this device from legal action if there is indeed a nick or two! Who the hell cares about a nick if you are trying to save the guy's life. My dad was an ambulance driver and taught first aid for 25 years. My favorite line of his was - you can fix many things, but you can't fix dead!
April M DeWaele April M DeWaele Tuesday, September 02, 2014 4:17:37 AM No guarantee he would have lived. But, there is usually a razor in those types of AEDs for such cases. Looks like the airline needs retaining on how to use them...
Mary Mohr Mary Mohr Tuesday, September 02, 2014 6:18:31 AM or, rip the hair off with the pads then put them back on.
Andrew Resch Andrew Resch Tuesday, September 02, 2014 8:56:30 AM Bill Keenan wise advice!!
Robert Callaham Robert Callaham Tuesday, September 02, 2014 10:25:11 AM As an AHA certified CPR instructor this is TOTALLY unacceptable. Classes are shown AND told how to deal with victims with hairy chests. AED use as soon as available INCREASES chances of survival. There is NO excuse for not using in this situation as reported.
Marc Hansen Marc Hansen Tuesday, September 02, 2014 12:25:54 PM Just to play devils advocate: 1) with all post 9/11 safety rules is the AED in the passenger compartment of the airplane actually equipped with a razor? I'm not sure but wouldn't be surprised to find out that it has been removed for safety...after all I can't carry on more than 4oz of shampoo at a time. 2) do flight attendants have a duty to act? Again I'm not sure but would really be surprised if they do. Good samiritan laws only come into play if they decide to act. 3)being that the AED is designed for an untrained member of the public to use what stopped anyone else from using the AED? Most flights that I have been on have the first aid equipment and AED in a clearly marked cabinet. 4) what about online medical control? Most US airlines have contracts and contact with ER doc's 24/7. Was this an order from a doctor or was one even contacted? There are too many basic questions that are unanswered in the article to even begin to second guess what went on. Using pads to remove hair is a great idea, but if no one was shown how to do that they probably wouldn't come up with it the first time using an AED. While most ideas expressed here are solid ones that have been developed due to what works on past calls don't forget that the company the airline contracted to do first aid and CPR training probably only signs contracts with large companies todo training, and there is no requirement for the instructor to be an expierenced EMS type.
Chris Smith Chris Smith Tuesday, September 02, 2014 12:31:05 PM Jim Lawrence Exactly, they probably just weren't trained enough or prepared
Michael N. Ruff Michael N. Ruff Tuesday, September 02, 2014 4:14:07 PM On a plane there would be about 50 people with carry on bags that have razors on them. If there was someone medically trained they would have possibly thought outside the box and asked the flight attendants to ask overhead to make an announcement for anyone with a razor in their bag to come forward. But in the heat of the moment maybe no-one thought of it, or no-one was medically trained.
Rena Forrest Rena Forrest Tuesday, September 02, 2014 4:22:39 PM geeze make sure there's a disposable razor, how hard is that?
Kevin Paulekas Kevin Paulekas Tuesday, September 02, 2014 4:50:03 PM I think everybody who took an AED class remember that cringe moment when the video instructor demonstrated how well the AED pads took off hair...
Cindy Loving Tysinger Cindy Loving Tysinger Tuesday, September 02, 2014 9:36:40 PM Obviously this WAS a witnessed arrest...flight personnel are supposedly trained, but you should know.....Monday Morn QB that if it's your first time using on a WA, it's very hard to pull yourself together and make that split second decision. Assuming all attempts were made requesting any medical assistance from qualified persons, the attendant may have been the only certified person to make the call???? I'm sure this won't be the last we hear about this call.
Missy Shelley Missy Shelley Wednesday, September 03, 2014 6:15:15 AM Don't they have a shave kit for just these cases? And why didn't they use the pads to remove the hair and continue on? Failure on flight staff part here
Darin Ruud Darin Ruud Wednesday, September 03, 2014 7:22:15 AM That is why when I teach CPR I mention that if you have no way to shave the pt (i.e., no razor in the AED) I always teach an alternative "bi-axillary" placement (placing both patches under the armpits). In this configuration the patient's arms are also usually able to provide some amount of assistance for adhesion. Some cardiologists prefer this placement for pts with right-sided pacemakers anyway.
Mark Lassman Mark Lassman Thursday, September 04, 2014 1:29:00 AM When I took my AED class back in 2002, the subject of hairy chests honestly never came up. But look at it this way… so you rip some hair off with duct tape or the AED pads. The hair will grow back. If we don’t use that AED on you… well, who cares about the hair? Clear the area however you can.
Neil Nick Friedman Neil Nick Friedman Thursday, September 04, 2014 1:12:19 PM Didn't ANYONE think to quickly poll nearby passengers to see who had a razor in their carry on (as part of their bathroom kit)?
Joseph Ogershok Joseph Ogershok Friday, September 05, 2014 9:12:10 AM Bill Keenan poor maintenance of equipment is a major cause for failure of an AED.
Bill Keenan Bill Keenan Friday, September 05, 2014 9:47:49 AM Joseph Ogershok I couldn't agree with you more Joseph. All I'm saying is that sometimes things happen and it's better to be in the mind set of lets double check what were doing in a case like that then speeding through and having a screw up like that happen.
Joseph Ogershok Joseph Ogershok Friday, September 05, 2014 10:26:34 AM It is supposed to be.
Ivan Kanjer Ivan Kanjer Friday, September 05, 2014 10:54:00 AM i had chance to see few AED (lifepack, zoll) in Croatia and all of them had razor, zoll aed had most stuff inside including face shield, shears adult+child pads... I think those are stuff that are ''must have'' with aed....

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