About 300 defibrillators being installed in Metra trains

December 27, 2012 9:15:12 PM PST
Metra commuters have some potentially life-saving equipment at their fingertips.

Chicago is the second city after Boston to have defibrillators on commuter trains.

"This is a significant day at Metra. We're adding something to our trains that hopefully none of us ever have to use, but it's like insurance. When we need it we want it," Metra Chairman Brad O'Halloran said.

Metra is in the process of installing roughly 300 of the devices in trains and the installation should be complete by the end of January.

"One of the most important places to have an AED is on a train and Metra is a marvelous system," Governor Pat Quinn said. "We are very blessed to have such a great commuter rail system in Northeastern Illinois."

The $1 million initiative is partly funded by Metra, but most of the money comes from the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and a sponsorship agreement with Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

There have been several cases of heart-related medical emergencies on trains, and that is why the movewas made. Thursday night, Bill and Norma Morley are applauding that move.

"We saw it first hand, how it can save somebody's life. So if it can save just one person's life, we're thrilled," said Norma Morley.

The couple's then-13-year-old son Sean went into cardiac arrest in 2001 after being hit in the chest by a baseball.

"Technically, he probably was dead for a short amount of time. His heart was not beating properly," said Bill Morley.

Fortunately, a nearby police officer had an automatic external defibrillator (AED) and was able to revive him.

ABC7 spoke to Sean shortly after he was saved in 2001.

"I feel fine; I feel like I can just get out and run around, I don't feel like I need to be in here," said Sean at the time.

It's that kind of emergency that Metra says it'll now be prepared for.

"Performing chest compressions and using an AED can almost triple survival outcomes from sudden cardiac arrest," said Dr. Amer Aldeen of Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Defibrillators already are required on airplanes and in large gathering places like sports stadiums.

But Metra will now be only the second U.S. transit agency, along with Boston's, to have defibrillators on trains.

"Our goal is to use this program to help us enhance the customer experience, and make strategic capital investments on the transit system so we can maximize its use," said Jay Ciayarella with the RTA.

Sean Morley is now 25 and healthy more than eleven years after his accident.

"Cardiac arrest can happen anywhere at any time," said Bill Morley. "So just to have this technology available... really does make it a safer place, then."

"Metra's AED program prevents an innovative measure that will help spread the familiarity of defibrillators among the general public and save many lives," said Aldeen.

Train crews will be trained to use the defibrillators and to perform CPR. Metra said they have trained about 1000 employees so far.


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