The story of the defibrillator as we know it starts in 1957 when Dr. William B. Kouwenhoven and his team of engineers at Johns Hopkins School of Engineering developed a reasonably portable, alternating current devise that was able to restart a patient’s heart without opening the chest cavity and directing currents into the heart itself. Immediately Johns Hopkins Hospital implemented the closed chest shock into their emergency response procedures within the hospital.
During research which led to an external defibrillator devise, Dr. Kouwenhoven colleague Dr. Guy Kickerbocker observed that the heavy weight of the paddles coming down onto the heart cavity resulted in a temporary spike in blood pressure that helped push blood through the heart. Reporting their findings to Dr. James Jude, a surgeon and colleague, the doctors concluded that constant heavy compressions ensured blood circulation to other vital organs keeping them alive and minimally functional while stabilizing the patient’s heart rhythms.
Along with the discovery of intermittent breathing by Dr. Pantridge in Ireland, an essential lifesaving procedure – CPR- was established.
Since the 1950’s the external defibrillator has gone through some changes including the addition of a monitor and EKG print out, telemetry and communications links to hospital emergency rooms, and now are “self” operating so that even children can help save a life with external defibrillation.
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