Bob Harper's new favorite piece of gym equipment isn't the leg press or elliptical — it's the automated external defibrillator (AED), the device that saved his life after he suffered a massive heart attack in February.
Trainer and host of The Biggest Loser, Harper recently started opening up about how he miraculously survived his "widow-maker" heart attack. On April 4, he made an appearance on the Today show to reveal the details of his survival story, and one day later, he returned to the show, joined by Dr. Mehmet Oz, to offer viewers vital tips for saving someone suffering from a heart attack just like he did. Dr. Oz, a health expert and cardiothoracic surgeon, gave a step-by-step explanation of how to operate an AED in the event that you encounter a cardiac arrest victim. Seeing as heart disease is the leading cause of female death, these life-saving tips are important to have in your back pocket, as you truly never know when you or a loved one will encounter a similar incident.
1. Locate the nearest AED as quick as possible, and don't let it intimidate you.
Dr. Oz explained how it's absolutely crucial to find the defibrillator ASAP because every single wasted moment equates to a decrease in survival rate. You don't necessarily have to be a medical expert to operate one of these, as they're actually supereasy to use. "You open this [AED] device up, and it's going to tell you everything you need to do," Dr. Oz explained, while demonstrating how the small machine actually dictates instructions aloud.
2. Try not to panic, and call 911 ASAP.
Once you've activated the AED, avoiding panic is key. "Most important, stay calm," Oz said. "Call 911 — it'll tell you both those things, and while you're waiting for that, stay calm."
3. Begin chest compressions immediately — and don't be shy with them.
You've probably seen someone performing CPR on TV or in movies, but what's the right way to perform this life-saving tactic? It turns out, there's really no wrong way in this particular situation, as long as you're doing them quickly and consistently, because the person only has a 6 percent chance at survival. "You can't do much harm, and therefore do whatever it takes to keep compressing at a rapid rate, a hundred times a minute. Do not worry about anything else," Oz explained.
In addition to quick, these up-and-down motions should be hard. "Within medicine we always say you got good chest depressions if you're sore afterward," Oz said. "You want to depress the chest one to two inches. You need to actually put your whole body into it." And Harper can attest to that, as he admitted that one whole month after the incident, he was still feeling the effects of the life-saving chest compressions the doctors at the gym performed on him. "I was literally holding my chest every time I was talking it hurt so badly," he said.
4. Apply the patches, and then let the AED work its magic.
Once the defibrillator is ready to go, you should remove the heart attack victim's shirt and attach the patches to their torso — one right below the nipple and one right above. (Don't worry; there's a handy map showing exactly where to place them.) And then you step away and let the machine do its thing. "Once that's done it will tell you to get away, it's analyzing," Oz said. "It's all you do." The AED will only deliver an electric shock if it determines that the patient absolutely needs it. In Harper's case, he was shocked three times before being taken to the hospital.