CHICAGO (AP) – The city’s two airports will become the first in the nation to make life-saving defibrillators available to the public.
The devices, which restart hearts by delivering a shock, will be placed throughout O’Hare International and Midway airports for use by any passer-by, city aviation department officials said.
Last year, emergency medical technicians responded to 1,680 cardiac-related calls at O’Hare alone, said Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for the city aviation department.
Most airports have defibrillators available to their employees or emergency medical professionals, but they are stored in places not accessible to the public, department spokeswoman Monique Bond said today.
The devices will be spaced no more than one minute’s walking distance apart, Culloton said. They will be installed on walls in public areas in the terminals.
Dr. Randolph Smoak, chairman of the American Medical Association Board of Trustees, said having the devices in public places “has some merit.” But he warned that, without proper training, using the devices on someone who is not having a heart attack could be dangerous.
City officials and the device’s maker, Seattle-based Heartstream, said the shock activates only after the device detects that a person’s heart is beating irregularly or has stopped. Users also will be advised to call the airport’s emergency communications center on an adjacent phone.
The defibrillators cost $3,000 each.