Miracle in a glass case

Automated External Defibrillators can save lives. Any place that people gather should have one.

John I. Carney
4 min readFeb 16, 2024

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A red automated external defibrillator behind a glass window in a wall-mounted case.
This is the AED on the floor below me in the Bedford County Courthouse.

The illness of a young high school athlete became a focus of attention for two counties this week. On Tuesday night, a young man named Kyler Trice was participating in a regional tournament basketball game. Kyler plays for Shelbyville Central High School, here in my home county; the game was at, and against, Lincoln County High School in Fayetteville.

At halftime, Kyler Trice suffered from a medical emergency. According to a story by Chris Siers in the Bedford County Post, medical professionals who were at the game stepped in.

In addition to chest compressions, an automated external defibrillator was deployed to save Trice’s life.
Shortly after, Trice was transported to Lincoln Medical Center before being airlifted to Vanderbilt [University] Medical Center in Nashville.

The game was suspended, and thousands of people in both Bedford and Lincoln counties began sending up prayers for the young man. On Thursday, prior to the resumption of the game, Lincoln County students organized a prayer vigil in the LCHS parking lot. There was no additional admission cost for the second half of the game, but those attending were given the chance to donate money to the young man’s family.

Fibrillation is the term for when the heart’s upper chambers begin to twitch chaotically. A defibrillator applies an electric shock to bring the muscles back into the proper rhythm. We’ve all seen TV shows where a procedure like this was used in a hospital operating room, the heroic doctor holding the paddles to the patient’s chest.

It takes a trained doctor to determine if the heart is actually fibrillating and if a shock is appropriate. But some years ago, a new device called an automated external defibrillator was created. This device can be used by lay people. The machine itself is capable of checking the patient’s heart rhythm. It will only deliver a shock if it clearly detects that conditions are right.

An AED has clear pictorial instructions (and usually voice commands) that can walk even an untrained person through its operation. A little bit of training is preferable, however, and many CPR classes now include a unit on how to use an AED. The operator has to stick adhesive pads to several points on the patient’s body. These serve as the sensors for the heart monitor and are how the electric shock is administered.

Back when I was a reporter for the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, I covered Bedford County Emergency Medical Service board meetings. When AEDs became available and affordable, BCEMS began encouraging local businesses, churches and organizations to purchase them, and I wrote several stories about that.

One of our local banks stepped in and paid for AEDs to be placed at each of the three public high schools in Bedford County. I took a photo of the check presentation, and Chad Graham — who was director of BCEMS at the time — said to me after the ceremony that the donation would not have happened had it not been for my stories. That was perhaps the single highest compliment I received in my 35 years as a journalist. Later, Chad Graham was elected county mayor, and in 2020 he hired me to work for the county, where I am now in charge of the county’s media presence as well as some GIS mapping.

My office is in the historic county courthouse. It no longer hosts any judicial functions, only governmental ones. I am on the second floor, but on the first floor, right across from the mayor’s office, is a case with a big glass window containing an AED.

Across the street from the courthouse is First United Methodist Church, where I’m a member and lay leader. We also have an AED — not in a glass case, but in the narthex (lobby) where it can easily be retrieved if someone were to need it.

Does your workplace have an AED? Does your church? What about the school your child attends? Find out. Kyler Trice and his family have reason to be glad that Lincoln County High School has one. Your life, or the life of someone you love, could depend on it.

Do you know CPR? Well, perhaps you should look for a class, not only so that you can learn how to do CPR but so that you can have a passing familiarity with how to use an AED. Can’t find a class? Get your church or club or workplace to host one.

Kyler Trice’s family has reported that he is improving, and the news is good, but they have asked for continued prayers for his recovery. Hopefully, his scare will help make more people aware of this miracle device.

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John I. Carney

Author of “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” available at http://www.lakeneuron.com/dislike