2008-01-25 / Community

Addabbo: Libraries Should Have Defibrillators

In an effort to save the lives of City residents who go into cardiac arrest City Council Member Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. announced that he has cosponsored legislation in the Council that would require the placement of automated external defibrillators in public libraries.

In October 2006, Addabbo introduced legislation that required the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to make automated external defibrillators available to primary, intermediate and high schools.

In March 2005, Addabbo voted along with the other members of the city council to enact legislation that requires the placement of automatic external defibrillators in certain public places. "I believe we should have medical equipment available to those in need in most public places", the councilman stated. "These life saving measures ought to be accessible to people when the medical emergency arises." Addabbo also praised the work of the Fire Department, emergency medical personnel and volunteer fire and ambulance corps for their efforts in a health crisis.

Health professionals note that of the more than 200,000 Americans who die of sudden cardiac arrest every year, up to 60,000 of these deaths could have been prevented if an automated external defibrillator (AED) had been immediately available.

Medical professionals also note that chances of survival from sudden cardiac death diminish by 7 - 10 percent for each minute without immediate CPR or defibrillation. After 10 minutes, resuscitation rarely succeeds.

In June 1999, Chicago's O'Hare and Midway Airports installed automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to respond in one minute to cardiac arrest. In the first 10 months, 14 cardiac arrests occurred, and nine of the 14 victims (64 percent) survived.

About the size of a laptop computer, an AED is a computerized device that analyzes the heart rhythm and prompts a rescuer to deliver an electrical shock if needed to get the heart beating again. When AEDs are used in conjunction with CPR, they can increase survival rates between 50 and 80 percent.

According to the Mayo Clinic cardiac arrest most commonly occurs when the heart's electrical activity becomes disrupted and the heartbeat gets dangerously fast (ventricular tachycardia) or chaotic (ventricular fibrillation). Because of this irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia), the heart stops beating effectively and can't adequately pump blood.

During cardiac arrest, the brain and other vital organs quickly become starved of blood and the life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients it carries. A person could die within a few minutes, or if they survive, they may sustain permanent damage to the brain and other organs. The sooner the heart's rhythm is restored the better, since each minute is critical to determining the chance of survival and how much damage a person might have.

If an automated external defibrillator is on hand, a bystander could grab it and easily connect it to the victim's chest to evaluate the heart rhythm. If the heart rhythm can be treated with an electric shock, the AED automatically sends a current to the heart muscle. That jolt can reset the heart back into a normal rhythm, possibly saving a life.

Although cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a vital step in the lifesaving process and can keep some blood flowing to the heart and brain for a short time, often only defibrillation can restore the heart's normal rhythm and ultimately save a life. This is especially true if a person experiences a type of abnormal heart rhythm known as ventricular fibrillation.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the General Service Administration published Guidelines for Public Access Defibrillation Programs in Federal Facilities following passage of Public Law 106-505 November 13, 2000, the Public Health Improvement Act. The Act authorized placement of AEDs in federal buildings and provided immunity from civil liability for anyone using an AED in a federal building. Several states have adopted legislation that allows a layperson to use an AED and provides legal immunity for proper use.

According to the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) the AED is a safe, effective, easily learned method of treating victims of cardiac arrest.

For further information about this legislation call Councilman Addabbo's office at 718-738-1111.

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