Patient Stories-Jacquelyn

I am not a statistic.
“If it wasn’t for the AED, I wouldn’t be alive today,”

Jacquelyn’s Story

Dept. of Labor employee’s life saved by co-worker’s quick actions

Most people cannot claim that going to work is a life-saving experience, but for Jacquelyn Carter, working at the U.S. Department of Labor was just that. On January 3, 2003, Carter returned to work after a holiday vacation. It was that afternoon, in the restroom at the Labor Department, that she became unresponsive after slumping and falling to the floor mid-conversation with a co-worker. Her co-worker acted quickly, calling the security guard and nurse to the scene. The nurse arrived with an automated external defibrillator (AED), upon the co-worker’s request, and began using the AED while the security guard administered CPR.

When the ambulance arrived, Carter’s heart was pulsating, just enough to keep her alive until arriving at GW Hospital. Fortunately for Carter, the Department of Labor’s Health Unit Staff had been trained to use the AED. “If it wasn’t for the AED, I wouldn’t be alive today,” said Carter. “Any place where people gather should have an AED.” Upon arriving at GW Hospital, Marco Mercader, MD, treated Carter and performed emergency surgery to insert an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) under her left collar bone. After her recovery, Carter returned to work, where U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao hosted a luncheon to thank everyone who was involved in conducting the expedient life-saving procedures for Carter. Also, Emily S. DeRocco, assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Administration wrote a letter thanking the individuals in Carter’s division who were instrumental in assisting both she and her daughter, June Carter, through the crisis.

Today, Carter compares the AED to a fire extinguisher. “Who’s to say when a fire might take place, and the extinguisher should be there all the time, just in case it’s needed. It is also a life-saver.” Now, five years later, Carter recently had a new ICD implanted, and is enjoying her retirement because of the individuals who saved her life.