Good Samaritans, Medical Device Save Man's Life at Airport

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- More than 900 people die in the U.S. every day due to sudden cardiac death, according to the American Heart Association. But life-saving devices installed at Hawaii airports have made a big difference.

This is actually the third time since July that a life was saved at a Hawaii airport with an automated external defibrillator. The latest rescue happened on Saturday. Thanks to quick thinking by those around him, a man from New Jersey is alive.

Hundreds of planes land at Honolulu International Airport every day, carrying thousands of passengers.

Doctors Jonathan Duca and Nanette Duca-Cruz came in on a flight from New Jersey on Saturday, when they heard a call for help.

"We came down the baggage claim, and we were standing at the carousel waiting to get our bags, and someone came and yelled, 'Help! Is there a doctor? Is there a nurse?'" said Dr. Duca, a fourth-year anesthesiology resident at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey.

A 76-year-old man collapsed at a baggage claim area. Dr. Duca-Cruz was the first to arrive.

"She looked for vital signs and he was not breathing and he did not have any pulses," said Dr. Duca. "So she immediately started CPR."

Dr. Duca assisted, and soon airport employees brought over an automated external defibrillator or an AED.

"The AED reads the rhythm that the heart is in, and if it's a shockable rhythm -- a rhythm in which giving a shock would actually help -- it delivers the shock," said Dr. Duca-Cruz, also a fourth-year anesthesiology resident.

She used the AED on the patient, jump started his heart, and saved his life.

"It makes me feel like a million dollars," said Dr. Duca-Cruz.

About a hundred AEDs were installed at Hawaii airports in January.

"They're here, the people are trained and we hope we don't have to use them, but if someone does have an emergency at the airport, they're ready to go," said Dr. James Ireland, medical director of Honolulu International Airport.

The Ducas save lives for a living, but didn't quite expect to do it so far from home.

"It's very rewarding," said Dr. Duca. "It was a nice way to start the trip and hearing that he's doing so well is a nice way to end the trip as well."

A day in the life of two doctors.

Medical experts say AEDs greatly increase a person's chance of surviving a heart attack versus CPR alone. The victim is recovering at The Queen's Medical Center.