A Sudden Change of Holiday Plans

“Turkey, sage, butter, celery.” Elodie mentally checked the items off her list as she walked down the main aisle. With Christmas only weeks away, Cora — the hypermarket in Wattignie, France — was crowded with holiday shoppers. Elodie was planning a holiday dinner of roast turkey and all the trimmings for her husband, children, and parents.

The next thing she remembers is waking up in a hospital bed, intubated and on a ventilator.

Preparation and quick response pay off

A woman yelled and gestured urgently for Elimane Ba, the 49-year-old security guard from Lille, on duty that day. Elodie lay unconscious, concerned bystanders gathering around her. Elimane grabbed the ZOLL® automated external defibrillator (AED) the store keeps readily accessible. Suspecting sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), he and another colleague immediately began compressions and followed the AED instructions to quickly attach the electrodes.

“The AED messages about what to do were reassuring and helpful,” Elimane recalls. Once the electrodes were attached, the AED Plus® analyzed Elodie’s heart and delivered a shock. Elimane and his colleague took turns continuing CPR until EMTs arrived. En route to the hospital, EMTs had to defibrillate Elodie’s heart a second time. 

Elimane Ba (security guard and rescuer), Elodie Geermaert (survivor), and Olivier Ansel (security manager from Cora Hypermarket)

Slow and steady recovery

Doctors implanted a stent to improve heart function and Elodie remained in a coma for two days. Luckily, she recovered in time to celebrate Christmas at home with her family. She has no memory of the events that occurred that day in the market. The last thing she remembers is sending a text. “Everything went black after that,” she recalls. Elodie felt some pain in her arm the day before her SCA but at the time attributed it to holiday stress.

“The AED messages about what to do were reassuring and helpful.”

— Elimane Ba
Cora Hypermarket security guard

Elodie found it very difficult to return to Cora after her recovery, but she did so to thank Elimane and his colleagues for their help. Without that AED and their quick thinking, Elodie’s life would have been in real danger. Two months after the event, Elodie still suffers from fatigue but is back to her regular routine. Suffering an SCA at the young age of 32 has given Elodie a unique perspective that others her age have yet to discover. She no longer takes time and family for granted. Following her recovery, she took time off to spend with her 10-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son to appreciate the little moments before returning to her job as a collection agent.

Elodie is acutely aware of the importance of publicly accessible AEDs and people willing to use them. Because the hypermarket had an accessible AED and quick acting bystanders came to her aid, Elodie received a second chance. She is committed to spreading this message so that others are just as fortunate as she was.

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