If you’ve been the film “Vice,” a fictional version of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s career, you’re aware of the heart-health challenges he faced. It’s not surprising, therefore, that his daughter, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is among the sponsors of a bill to encourage greater use of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs), which can save victims of sudden cardiac arrest.
Other authors of the bill include Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Rep. Pete Olson (R-Tx). The bill — H.R. 1227, the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act — would implement a national uniform baseline of protection for those who use an AED while attempting to save a life during a medical emergency.
“Access to AEDs is critical to saving lives during a cardiac emergency,” Rep. Connolly said. “As Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors I made it a priority that county buildings and schools deploy this lifesaving technology, and that staff have the knowledge and training to use these tools effectively. This legislation will ensure we don’t allow fear of liability or a patchwork of differing protections across the states to prevent an individual or business from taking all necessary measures to save a life.”
Good Samaritans protected
Currently deployment of AEDs is limited due to conflicting state laws that discourage the use of life-saving AEDs through the threat of lawsuits against Good Samaritans who want to help in an emergency, Connolly and Cheney said.
“I’m proud to lead the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act to help save lives by increasing access to AEDs and promoting the use of this life-saving technology to aid someone suffering from a cardiac arrest,” Rep. Liz Cheney said. “The bill encourages AEDs to be more readily available in stores, businesses, and public places and reduces the threat of legal action against those who quickly act during a cardiac emergency. It’s especially crucial to support increased access in rural areas where immediate response to cardiac arrest is vital as residents may live many miles from a hospital. Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and this bill aims to significantly reduce that number.”
According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, in the U.S. alone, approximately 350,200 people experience EMS-assessed out-of-hospital non-traumatic SCA each year and nine out of 10 victims die. Approximately 60 percent of those victims could be saved if someone intervenes and responds by engaging the emergency system, performing CPR and locating and using an AED.
Sadly, survival rates for out-of-hospital SCA victims have remained a low eight percent for thirty years. Immediate CPR and early defibrillation, using an AED, can more than double a patient’s chance of survival, but only if a person acts.
Every minute a person goes without receiving defibrillation their chance of survival can decrease by 10%. The average response to a 911 call is over 7 minutes, leaving patients with almost no chance. Many lives could be saved if Automated External Defibrillators (AED), which are user-friendly so untrained bystanders can use them, were more widely available.