Automated External Defibrillators: At the Heart of Saving Lives

CHICAGO, March 11 — In conjunction with the nationwide celebration of American Red Cross Month, the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago is pleased to announce the launch of automated external defibrillator (AED) training for businesses. AEDs are small, portable, easy-to-use devices that deliver lifesaving defibrillation to victims of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). With the proper use of these devices, 100,000 lives could be saved each year. In fact, the SCA survival rate could jump from 5 percent to 30 percent with the proper use of AED technology.

American Red Cross acting president Steve Bullock will visit the Chicago area on Monday, March 15, to speak with members of the media about the importance of AEDs and to participate in a demonstration of how the ground-breaking technology is used. The press event will be held at the Red Cross Arlington Heights Service Center, 544 West Northwest Highway, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Addison Deputy Police Chief Bill Haden will also be available to speak with the press about involvement in the training program.

The American Red Cross, together with leaders in AED technology, including Heartstream, Inc. (a subsidiary of Hewlett-Packard Company) and Laerdal Medical Corporation, will help save lives from sudden cardiac arrest by including AED training as part of its standard CPR training course for U.S. businesses. The new training component, which is being piloted in 17 cities, will help ensure that employees are trained and equipped to save lives where Americans spend the majority of their waking time — at work.

"Someone in the United States suffers from sudden cardiac arrest nearly every five minutes and AEDs are an amazing new technology that can significantly decrease the number of Americans that die from sudden cardiac arrest each year," said Steve Bullock, acting president of the American Red Cross. "The Red Cross is proud to have been a major supporter of the inclusion of AEDs in communities, commercial aircraft, sports arenas and shopping malls. We hope that its successful integration into those venues will encourage businesses and families to receive proper training and include the AED in every basic first aid kit."

The addition of the AED technology to the workplace is imperative. Each week, approximately 150 million Americans go to work. According to a recent study, the highest volume of SCA incidents occur on Monday, closely followed by Friday, the most stressful periods of the workweek. Conversely, the fewest SCA incidents occur over the weekend.

"Sudden cardiac arrest strikes almost 1,000 lives each day, making it a public health issue of national importance," said local Red Cross AED trainer Heather O’Hara. "AEDs can help save countless lives from this deadly and unpredictable event — but only if America is trained to use the technology. The American Red Cross trains approximately 6 million people in lifesaving first aid and CPR each year and AED training is the next critical and logical step in strengthening the cardiac chain of survival."

"More than 11,000 Illinois residents die from a heart attack every year," said State Senator Dave Syverson, Chairman of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee in the Illinois State Senate. "My goal is to see automated external defibrillators in restaurants, retail stores, places of employment and other public areas to give heart attack victims and victims of cardiac arrest faster treatment and a better chance to live." In addition, Syverson strongly endorsed the leadership shown by the American Red Cross for training people to use AEDs.

Sudden cardiac arrest can strike anybody, anyplace and often without warning. Defibrillation, or restoring the heart’s natural rhythm by applying an electrical shock, is the only definitive treatment for SCA. CPR combined with immediate defibrillation is critical because the chance of survival decreases by approximately 10 percent each minute treatment is delayed. The current SCA survival rate in the United States is only 5 percent, largely because CPR and defibrillators are not generally used in time.

The American Red Cross is dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. The American Red Cross is a volunteer-led humanitarian service organization that annually provides almost half the nation’s blood supply, trains more than 11.7 million people in vital lifesaving skills, mobilizes relief to victims in more than 60,000 disasters nationwide, provides direct health services to 2.8 million people, assists international disaster and conflict victims in more than 40 countries, and transmits more than half a million emergency messages to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. More information about American Red Cross’s life saving work is available on the World Wide Web at

SOURCE American Red Cross of Greater Chicago