Fit Bits: Take Heart


Skiers continue to head out-of-bounds in increasing numbers. Unfortunately, in the case of an emergency, rescue becomes a challenge the farther in or higher up you go. In the event of cardiac arrest, every minute that passes without treatment lowers the chance of survival by 10 percent. In the past, cardiac arrest victims were saved with a device called a defibrillator, a large machine that sends an electrical shock to restore the rhythm of the heart. Because these devices weren't mobile, victims lost precious minutes in transit to the hospital.

With new technological advances, it's now possible to bring the defibrillator to the victim. Ski areas around the country are paying attention. LIFEPAK 500, developed by Medtronic Physio-Control, is the leading brand of Automated External Defibrillators (AED). This device, weighing in at 7 pounds and about the size of a lap-top computer, is small enough for ski patrollers to keep in their packs. And because it's computerized, it's easy for patrollers to use.

Telluride, Colo., was one of the first North American ski resorts to add a portable defibrillator to its emergency medical equipment. Ironically, just several weeks later, the AED saved the life of a 39-year-old woman. Now, most of the resorts in the U.S. have an AED. And that's a good thing. Proposed legislature would require that any venue holding more than 3,000 people must have one.