Esteemed San Antonio-based businesswoman Jane Gonzalez proudly presides over the operations of MEDwheels. The scholarly woman is caring and compassionate about serving others. Her commitment to guaranteeing peerless customer service shines through, and she personally stands behind the superior health care products and comprehensive services she makes available to her ever-growing clientele. One product she resolutely champions is the AED, or automated external defibrillator.

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs without symptoms or warning, and no one is immune from this frightening condition. It creeps up any time, anywhere, and it does not discriminate when selecting its next victim. Automated external defibrillators are life-saving devices that have garnered national acclaim because they resuscitate people who have lost their heart rhythm. Gonzalez believes in AEDs because she knows firsthand how effective, reliable and efficient they are in restoring people’s heart rhythms.

“I love doing this! I get a lot of pleasure doing what I do. I feel very blessed that God would give me the opportunity to save his children with this device,” Gonzalez said. “There’s no price tag in the ability to save someone’s life.”

The small, easy-to-use AEDs have swiftly grown in popularity in venues with heavy traffic such as businesses, civic centers, schools, airports, churches and casinos. Typically ranging in price from $800 to $1,000, the devices are lightweight, battery-operated and portable.

More oil companies are acquiring AEDs to aid those who work in remote areas and do not have access to immediate health care in emergency situations. The average response time for first responders once 9-1-1 is called is between eight and 12 minutes. In desolate areas, response times can take even longer. Having an accessible AED with people trained in CPR and how to use an AED is imperative in saving lives. For each minute that CPR and defibrillation are delayed, the person’s chance for survival is reduced by about 10 percent, according to Ellen Jones, senior AED program manager for American Red Cross.

Gonzalez understands the urgency in supplying outlying areas with AEDs.

“In Gonzales, Frio and Webb counties where the population has increased and the number of workers has increased and hospitals are 50 miles away, if someone goes into cardiac arrest, this device is highly needed in these rural areas,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez and her attentive, knowledgeable staff work tirelessly to improve the quality of life of others. She helms the minority and woman-owned business, deemed a Historically Underutilized Business, or HUB.Because of her professionalism, networking and keen attention to detail, she has secured a number of impressive contracts and aspires to partner with more oil companies in the pursuit of saving lives.

“I want to create strong relationships with these oil companies to provide the CPR, first aid and AED training and the devices so I can be a solution to implementing an AED program,” Gonzalez said.

So how does an AED work? They are equipped with sensors, or electrodes, that are attached to the chest of the person experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. The electrodes send information about the person’s heart rhythm to a computer in the AED. The computer analyzes the heart rhythm to determine whether an electric shock is necessary. If a shock is warranted, the AED uses voice prompts to tell people when to administer the shock, and the electrodes deliver it. Using an AED to shock the heart within minutes of the start of sudden cardiac arrest may restore a normal heart rhythm, according to the National Institutes of Health. To obtain an AED, a prescription is required.

Safety officials working in the oilfield industry are vocal proponents of employing AEDs in the workplace.

Joe Castaneda is the occupational health manager for San Antonio-based CPS Energy. He said that AEDs are critically important in helping those working out in the oil patch and that approximately 400,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually with 88 percent of them affecting workers who are without immediate health care.

“The reality is that if someone is defibrillated it increases the chance of survival. The oilfields are usually in remote areas that have limited access to adequate levels of health care readily available. You usually deal with a long distance for a responder to get to the worker or injured employee or even ill employee. One of the things we look at is brain death, and permanent death can start within just four to six minutes from a sudden cardiac arrest so having equipment that is readily available is beneficial to the workers, beneficial to improving the survival rate of up to 24 percent,” he said.

Castaneda previously worked for the Department of Defense where he and his colleagues used AEDs. Working for the department, he witnessed their tremendous success in saving lives in Kuwait based on rapid reaction and instant access to an AED.

As safety coordinator of P&J Electric in San Diego, Texas, Jody Farias heralds the use of AEDs in the workplace. He is a certified medic first-aid instructor. He said that the AED supplies electrical stimulation to the heart until first responders, who are also equipped with AEDs, can arrive at the scene.

“What the AED does is program the heart to go back to its normal rhythm, and then that’s when a person has life. Their heart starts working the way it should work. It’s easy to use because the AED does everything itself,” Farias said. “It’s like having a doctor on hand in a little box.”

Castaneda commends MEDwheels for expertly accommodating people’s specific needs.

“They have a lot of resources to provide,” he said.