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Coworkers Revive Colleague With AED At South Jordan Company

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Three Utahns were recognized for helping save their coworker’s life with an Automated External Defibrillator, or AED, after he suffered a heart attack at work.

“It was just a normal day, everybody said I was my normal self,” said Jack Rakes, who lives in South Jordan. Rakes felt fine when he went to work early one morning. “There was no warning.” But he wasn’t fine. “I was just gone in an instant,” he said.

Rakes collapsed and three coworkers at Merit Medical rushed to help.

“I heard this sound that you just don’t normally hear and it had been his head hitting the back of the table,” said Taylorsville resident Teresa Salazar.

Someone sounded an emergency alarm and Andrew Williamson, of Grantsville, said, “It went, ‘Code blue, we need to get going. Let’s go! Let’s go!’”

“He was gray, he was going gray,” said West Valley City resident Debra Pressley.

Pressley grabbed the onsite AED. It’s a portable electronic device that can restart the heart through electric shock.

“I had never been trained on an AED prior,” Salazar said.

AEDs can revive someone during a sudden cardiac arrest, and they are showing up everywhere. You might have seen one hanging on the wall at work, at the mall or the airport. It was vitally important to Rakes and the people who saved him.

“It prompts you to do all the steps, to apply the pads. It will tell you that it’s analyzing the heart rhythm,” said Merit Medical Cheif Wellness Officer Dr. Nicole Priest. “It will say, ‘Shock advised.’”

AEDs might look intimidating, but experts said they’re easy to use if you follow the automated commands.

Laura Western with the American Heart Association said, “The first thing you’ll do is take the pads out and you would apply them directly onto the patient. One goes over the heart and one goes over on the other side.”

Salazar and her colleagues followed the instructions that day and saved Jack’s life.

“I just looked at the pictures on the pads,” she said.

“I’m a very lucky guy,” Rakes said.

Salazar said she learned how to act quickly from someone special: her grandmother, Fran Salazar, who helped raise her.

“I have had to help her through some hard times,” Teresa Salazar said. “I didn’t have the best childhood growing up. Alcohol and drugs were a problem. Whenever I’d spend the night, she’d always scratch my back and do, ‘The Itsy Bitsy Spider.’”

Teresa Salazar said she visits her grandmother every day, and those visits helped prepare Teresa for the moment when seconds mattered. “I kind of have a little more confidence just walking around on a normal day because I just helped save a life,” she said.

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