Chad Coburn and his sister, Jessie Lacaeyse, have teamed up to form P-AED, a tax-deductible outreach to provide funding for the purchase of AED supplies and replacement units. The duo formed the outreach in response to the donation of 4,000 AEDs to law enforcement officials and emergency personal across Iowa by the Helmsley Charitable Trust. Coburn suffered a heart attack last October and thanks to CPR and the use of an AED by law enforcement officials, he has a second chance at life.
by J.O. Parker
Iowa law enforcement officials and first responders across the state will soon be receiving more than 4,000 automatic external defibrillator (AEDs) to give victims of cardiac arrest a second chance at life.
The AEDs are a gift from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, who last week awarded the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Bureau of Emergency and Trauma Services (BETS) a $10.1 million grant to purchase the AEDs. The trust has also donated AEDs to law enforcement officers and emergency personal in Montana, Wyoming, South and North Dakota.
The three-year project aims to equip every law enforcement vehicle in the state with an AED and train law enforcement professionals to deliver the best care prior to the arrival of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Additionally, the project will equip conservation officers and staff at state parks with AEDs.
Studies conducted by the American Heart Association demonstrate a dramatically higher survival rate for cardiac patients defibrillated by law enforcement, who are generally first on the scene, especially in rural areas.
“Seconds count during a cardiac arrest,” said Walter Panzirer, a Helmsley trustee. “We know in Iowa first responders often have great distances to cover. This funding will ensure those who get to the scene before EMS arrives give patients a better shot at survival.”
Chad Coburn, a heart attack survivor and director of Poweshiek Water Association, said “This is great news, life-changing news.”
Coburn, 47, is alive today thanks to the quick action of family members and two sheriff’s deputies who used CPR and an AED to start his heart.
It was a warm afternoon last October and Coburn had left work early to remove some trees from his rural Victor home. His wife, Crystal, and 13-year-old son, Cael, helped with the project.
After finishing up, everyone headed inside and Coburn said he started to have a little bit of pain in his elbows.
“I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis and I thought maybe the tree work was causing the pain,” said Coburn. “I took some Tylenol but it didn’t seem to help. It kept getting worse, and it didn’t feel like arthritis. I told Crystal we needed to go to the hospital.”
As the family got ready to go to the hospital, Coburn said the pain suddenly disappeared. Concerned, he called his sister, Jessie Lacaeyse, a nurse at the Brooklyn Medical Clinic, and told her what happened. The two decided if the pain came back, he should go to the hospital and get it checked out.
After making a quick trip into the local grocery store for food, the family returned home and Coburn said the pain started in his elbows again.
“It was getting worse,” he said. “It was a little more rapid and moved into my forearms and wrists.”
Coburn and his family quickly got ready to go to the hospital in nearby Marengo.
“The last thing I remember was bracing myself on the two countertops in our kitchen to rest myself for a moment,” he recalled.
At about that same time, Coburn said he fell straight back like a board and hit the floor. Crystal grabbed the phone and called 911 and handed it off to Cael, who stayed on with the 911 operator. She then started giving her husband cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
As Crystal worked frantically to save her husband, Iowa County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Tiedt was patrolling nearby and rushed to the scene.
“Our home is actually in Poweshiek County but close to the Iowa County line,” Coburn said. “The deputy saw what was happening and went back to his vehicle to grab an automated external defibrillator (AED). He used it to shock my heart, which didn’t start right away.”
Meanwhile, Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Deputy Jono Cheney arrived and took over chest compressions from Crystal, who had been giving CPR for about eight minutes. Coburn became responsive a few minutes later.
The Victor Quick Responders arrived shortly after as did the East Poweshiek Ambulance. Coburn was rushed to Compass Memorial Healthcare in Marengo. The team at Compass called St. Luke’s LifeGuard Air Ambulance to transport him to St. Luke’s, heart hospital in Cedar Rapids.
Upon arrival at St. Luke’s ER, the LifeGuard team immediately took Coburn to the heart catheterization lab where Dr. Subhi Halawa placed a stent to open his 100 percent blocked vessel.
“In Chad’s case, cardiac arrest was caused by a heart blockage,” Dr. Halawa said in a hospital press release. “This is typically caused by soft plaque, which is a cholesterol build up inside the blood vessel wall. If Coburn hadn’t received treatment by this team of individuals when he did, he would not be here. He’s extremely lucky.”
“It’s difficult to know how to thank everyone,” Coburn said of his second chance. “They all helped me continue to live my life and to hopefully grow older with Crystal, to be a father to Cael and watch him grow to be a man but it’s tough to express that level of gratitude.”
Coburn hopes his story and his ‘happy ending’ spurs others to learn CPR. He and Crystal were trained in CPR through work – never thinking it would be a skill they would need.
“I want people to know what a huge difference CPR made for me,” said Coburn. “I hope people read my story and will learn CPR because it and the AED are what ultimately kept me alive in time to get to St. Luke’s where doctors were able to open my heart blockage. CPR is a lifesaver.”
Helping others through P-AED
With news of the Helmsley Charitable Trust donation of 4,000 AEDs, Coburn and his sister, Jessie, have teamed up to form the P (Poweshiek) -AED Fund, a tax-deductible fund through the Brooklyn Community Foundation.
“Our initial idea was to raise funds to purchase AEDs and support them for the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Department,” Jessie said.
After learning in mid-November that the Helmsley Charitable Trust would be making a donation to Iowa, Jessie said she and her brother changed course and prepared to support the AEDs once they were in hand.
“This way the sheriff’s department won’t have to find a way to budget for replacements of pads, batteries and the units themselves,” noted Jessie.
The process is simple. The tax-deductible donations will be held in the Brooklyn Community Foundation. When AED replacement items are needed, Jessie or Coburn will be contacted.
“We will contact our vendor and pay for the items,” said Coburn. “The items will be sent directly to the department. The money will only be used in support of the AED units in Poweshiek County and nothing else.”
“The AED is a tool and with this tool being in the vehicles of our county officers, others in Poweshiek County will have the same chance at life that Chad had,” added Jessie.
To make a donation, send a check made out to the Brooklyn Community Foundation with P-AED Fund written in the memo. Mail the check to: P-AED Fund, P.O. Box 283, Brooklyn, IA 52211
Donations can also be made in person to Coburn or Jessie, who will deposit the funds and send a receipt.
Editor’s note: Some information for this article came from UnityPoint.org along with a press release from the Helmsley Charitable Trust.