Bystanders Fight to Save Man at Airport while 122 AEDs at Airport Remain Unused

Sue Hostler was running through a parking garage of Philadelphia International Airport in late August, hurrying to catch a flight home to Pittsburgh, when she came upon a young man in even more of a hurry – for someone to save his life.

Robert Hallinan, a 25-year-old limousine driver from Broomall, Pa., was sprawled on the floor of an elevator, unconscious. He was in cardiac arrest. Hostler, a frequent business traveler and private pilot trained in CPR, acted almost instinctively.

She called 9-1-1 and quickly started CPR. The operator stayed on the line, but said nothing about the possibility of retrieving an automated defibrillator from the adjacent terminal. Another traveler, Vivian Nolan, a cancer patient, came by and offered help. Together they were able to roll Hallinan on his back as Hostler continued hands-only compressions, hard and fast, 100 times a minute.

More than a dozen other people passed by, but no one else stopped. “We were getting increasingly desperate. I was keeping up the compressions, but he wasn’t responding. I kept calling out to people passing by to find an AED, but all I got were these deer in the headlight looks. I knew there was an AED somewhere across that walkway, but I didn’t want to send Vivian away because I wasn’t sure the EMTs would be able to find us,’’ Hostler said in a recent interview.

Finally, after about 15 minutes, an airport police officer arrived. Then Nolan led emergency medical technicians with an AED to the elevator. Hostler had been doing CPR for 17 minutes when they took over and shocked Hallinan’s heart back to life. Although he was in a medically-induced coma for several days, he is recovering with no neurological damage.

Philadelphia International, like most major airports, has AEDs throughout its terminals, 122 in all, according to a 2012 assessment done by the city’s fire department. Yet to those units were invisible to Hostler and the dispatcher managing her call that day.

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Tuesday, December 24th, 2013 Event No Comments