National CPR and AED Awareness Week Complemented by the Josh Miller HEARTS Act

Every year approximately 166,000 American lives are lost due to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Another staggering statistic is that 94% of people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest die before ever reaching a hospital.

June 1 – 7, 2008 marked the first annual National CPR and AED Awareness Week. Congress designated this time to educate Americans about the importance of CPR and AED training in order to reduce death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest. Robert O’Connor, Chair of the American Heart Association’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee said, “It is crucial that more Americans are trained in CPR and that AEDs are made more accessible to the public. A national awareness week will be a strong step for our nation in making that a priority.”

Red Cross chapters across the nation held classes and demonstrations, hosted events and provided educational information to stress the importance of CPR and AED training. Scott Conner, Vice President for the American Red Cross Preparedness and Health and Safety Services commented, “It’s wonderful to have a week devoted to calling people’s attention to the fact that saving someone’s life is as simple as taking a class.”

The US House of Representatives complemented last week by passing the Josh Miller HEARTS (Helping Everyone Access Responsive Treatment in Schools) Act (H.R. 4926) on June 9. The Josh Miller HEARTS Act establishes a national grant program through the Department of Education to fund the installation of AEDs in schools and the training of staff in their use.

“This legislation will help make our schools safer places to learn and work,” noted Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH) who introduced the legislation in December of 2007. “AEDs are the single most effective treatment for those suffering a sudden cardiac arrest. By ensuring that schools have access to these lifesaving devices, we can prevent needless deaths in communities across the country.”

Congress has taken two strong steps forward with the first week of June being declared as National CPR and AED Awareness Week and the passing of the Josh Miller HEARTS Act. Let’s thank U.S. Representatives John R. “Randy” Kuhl (R-NY) and Dan Boren (D-OK) and Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) as well as Betty Sutton (D-OH) for introducing these ground breaking bills.

Effective CPR can double or triple survival rates – test your knowledge by taking the American Heart Association’s quiz on whether or not you would know what to do in a cardiac emergency.