A settlement of $3.2 million will be paid to the family of a 49-year-old man who died of a heart attack after a Chicago Fire engine’s defibrillator batteries hadn’t been replaced.
On January 22, 2005 Frederick Partyka, a city worker in the Chicago area collapsed while using his snow blower in front of his home. His son, a paramedic with the fire department – witnessing the incident – called 911 immediately and ran out to administer CPR while waiting for help to arrive.
At 3:16 pm the fire engine arrived, the paramedic on-board found Partyka in ventricular tachycardia – a life-threatening condition. But when the paramedic went to use the AED to shock Partyka’s heart back into rhythm, the defibrillator didn’t work. The batteries were old and wouldn’t hold a charge. At 3:22 pm an ambulance arrived with a working defibrillator. But those six minutes were far too late – Partyka was already dead.
“The industry standard required – and the manufacturer recommended – that this particular defibrillator battery had to be replaced every two years,” said Susan Schwartz, an attorney representing the Partyka family.
“But, on Jan. 22, 2005, no battery had been purchased by the city since October, 2000. They didn’t properly maintain the batteries for these defibrillators.”
During Monday’s Finance Committee meeting, First Deputy Corporation Counsel Karen Seimetz told aldermen that the defibrillators used on that day were replaced in March, 2005. The new version uses batteries “automatically changed out with the manufacturer every two years,” she said.
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