Kona airport staff spring into action to save man’s life using an AED

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A visitor from Washington state said it is a miracle that he is alive. On Friday, Oct. 1, Patrick Barrett was getting ready to fly back home from Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport when he went into cardiac arrest at the airport’s ticket counter.

Airport staff and firefighters acted quickly to get his heart beating again and take him to a hospital. The heroic act was made possible by a machine anyone can use if the time comes.

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“One minute the lights are out and you wake up to these guys; they’re a good group,” Patrick said.

He said he does not remember collapsing at the Hawaiian Airlines ticket counter, but his wife Lois has it burned into her mind.

“I thought I had lost him. But rest assured — Hawaiian Air –they stepped in; the gal named Jenny that works there in Kona, she stepped in, she kept me calm.”

Lois Barrett, wife of Patrick Barrett

Patrick’s heart had stopped. Fortunately, the ticket agent, a porter and a security guard jumped into action and started chest compressions.

“He wasn’t breathing and had no pulse, so it was very serious. It’s just good that we were there in time to help him out,” Airport Rescue Firefighter Charles Akao, with the Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF), said.

When firefighters arrived, they used an automated electronic defibrillator — or AED.

“It only took one shock for his heart to start, and by the time the paramedics arrived, he was awake and talking. Truly is a remarkable success story,” Jason Hughes, medical director for ARFF, said.

“I said ‘did you guys save me,’ and they said yes, so I was so thankful at that time.”

Patrick Barrett

The firefighters are trained medical first responders but training is not needed to operate the AED.

“Pretty much fireman’s proof, super easy. You just open it up, and then it tells you exactly what to do,” Airport Rescue Firefighter Aldon Cortez said.

There are over 200 AED’s throughout Hawaii’s airports. They are also located in many businesses across the state.

Experts said they can easily and safely be operated if directions are followed when someone is breathing and unresponsive — the AED could save someone’s life.

“AED’s are meant for anybody to use; you do not need doctors direction, you do not need training, you do not need a special card. There’s also no liability in using it,” Kim Williams, of AED Institute of America Inc, explained. “If you can get an AED on within the first two minutes of cardiac arrest with additional compressions, that person has a 90% chance of survival.”

One thing the folks who rescued Patrick Barrett were clearly trained in was ‘aloha.’

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“I thank them so much, and the way they treat us like family, it’s amazing,” Patrick said. “You come to Hawaii; you don’t really know anybody and when something happens — this magnificent group of people — and it’s totally amazing.”

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