October 27, 1995
Media Contact: John Cramer
Phone: (410) 955-1534
Under an upcoming congressional bill, many members of the general public would be required to learn to use basic and advanced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and a device that delivers an electric shock to revive heart attack victims.
A Johns Hopkins physician who helped draft the proposal says many of the 350,000 deaths from heart attacks each year could be prevented if the victims received prompt medical care, including automatic external defibrillation (AED). AEDs are the two-paddle devices that deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heart rhythm to people whose hearts have stopped or are beating erratically.
The bill, which was developed by the American Heart Association's scientific council, is to be introduced soon in the House. If Congress passes it, the states and federal government, by as early as February 1997, would begin considering voluntary or mandatory programs.
"Putting AEDs in the hands of large numbers of trained people is essential for increasing survival from heart attacks," says Nisha Chandra, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of the coronary care unit at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
The AEDs, which are designed to detect abnormal rhythms and deliver the right level of shock, are safe, effective and easily used with the proper training, says Chandra. She cited recent cases in which airline crews twice saved passengers having heart attacks in flight.
The bill suggests:
expanding public training programs in first aid and CPR.
making such training a requirement for getting a driver's license and graduating from high school and college.
offering AED training to health care providers and the general public.
making AED and other emergency training a requirement for medical professionals, first- responders to emergencies and some non-health care workers.
putting AEDs in ambulances and in stadiums, office buildings and other public places.
changing "good Samaritan" laws so that people cannot be found liable for using AEDs.
developing a uniform 911 system that activates a "chain of survival" program including
early ambulance response, CPR, AED and advanced cardiac care in a hospital.