Metro defibrillator failed during rider's fatal heart attack

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Local,DC,Maryland,Virginia,Transportation,Kytja Weir

Metro is inspecting all of its defibrillators after one failed to work Monday when a 51-year-old rider suffered a fatal heart attack on the Yellow Line.

The agency announced the news after The Washington Examiner started asking questions about the broken automated external defibrillator Thursday morning.

Metro now says it plans to inspect all the defibrillators in its stations within 24 hours after determining the one at the Pentagon station had a dead battery.

Metro has 46 defibrillators, meaning not every one of the 86 stations has one. The agency said Thursday it plans to add units at all remaining stations and replace any outdated models by April 30.

Rider Zane Reynolds told The Examiner the defibrillator at the Pentagon station might not have saved the man's life but it should have been working. He was among the riders who helped the fallen man, who police records identify as Eugene McCrea.

"It was not working," Reynolds said. "The battery was totally dead."

Reynolds said he was riding the Yellow Line train around 2:45 p.m. from L'Enfant Plaza when he saw a commotion at the end of his car as the train crossed the river on the way to the Pentagon station. Someone asked for anyone who knew CPR, and he jumped in to help.

Another rider alerted the train operator on the intercom that a man needed help, he said, and the operator acknowledged them. Several minutes passed as the train continued, he said, giving the agency time to get help.

"There should have been a Metro employee on the platform with the defibrillator ready," Reynolds said.

Instead, he said, Metro employees were not organized. Another rider waiting at the platform who happened to be a registered nurse came in and took over giving CPR.

The riders asked for a defibrillator. A Metro employee told them there was one at the station entrance. But the station manager was not moving quickly, Reynolds said, so he ran to get it as the nurse continued CPR. However, it didn't work once they tried it.

Metro said it took Arlington medics five minutes to arrive, but Reynolds said the officials had to grapple with the logistics of getting their gurney down the elevator to the train. The medics then used their own device to try to jump-start McCrea's heart.

At 3:17 p.m., McCrea was transported to Virginia Hospital Center, according to a Pentagon Force Protection Agency police report, where he was soon pronounced dead.

"While station managers have been trained to inspect defibrillators, procedures for conducting inspections and maintenance are being strengthened to include required signed daily inspection reports to prevent a recurrence," Metro said.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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