ALBANY - The American Heart Association today commends the New York State Senate for passing legislation that will expand New York State's Public Access to Defibrillation program by requiring all high occupany facilities to be equipped with an automated external defibrillator (AED). All publicly- and privately-operated facilities having a capacity for occupancy by 1,000 or more persons will be required to be equipped with a minimum of one AED and have at least one employee trained in CPR and the use of an AED to be present when the facility is in use.
This legislation, which was passed by the New York State Assembly on May 26th, empowers New York State residents to respond to a cardiac emergency.
Now, it awaits the signature of New York State Governor George Pataki.
"The Senate has shown it understands how critical improving the chain of survival for cardiac arrest victims is," said Paul Hartman, Director of Advocacy for the American Heart Association. "If signed by Governor Pataki, this legislation will grow New York's current public access defibrillation program by bringing lifesaving defibrillators into our state's largest public and private venues."
The legislation (S.1074), sponsored by Senator James Alesi (R - East Rochester), extends "Good Samaritan" protections to trained employees and volunteers who use the AED in an emergency situation at such facilities. Identical legislation (A.112) was sponsored by Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D - Long Beach).
About 250,000 people die each year from sudden cardiac arrest. Defibrillation is the only known therapy to treat an individual in cardiac arrest. The delivering of an electrical shock to the heart can restore the heart's normal rhythm. However, it must be done within minutes of the arrest. For every minute that passes without defibrillation, a victim's chance of survival decreases by seven to 10 percent. After as few as 10 minutes, very few resuscitation attempts are successful.
In the past, the ability to defibrillate rested solely in the hands of emergency medical personnel. Unfortunately, quick emergency medical response isn't always possible.
"The best way to give New Yorkers who suffer sudden cardiac arrest a chance for survival is to ensure the high-capacity facilities are equipped with lifesaving equipment, and that appropriate personnel are trained in CPR and in the use of an AED," Hartman said. "We know that this legislation will save lives, and we can't stress that fact enough."
In December 2002, New York State became the first state in the nation to require AEDs in schools and at all school sporting and extracurricular events. In February, the New York City Council unanimously passed legislation, and Mayor Bloomberg signed into law legislation that requires AEDs to be available in many public places, including city-owned buildings, parks, stadiums, senior centers, nursing homes, and golf courses. New York State has served as the national leader in enacting public policy to expand public access defibrillation -- requiring AEDs in schools, health clubs, and all state buildings and institutions. Most importantly, the AEDs-in-schools law alone has resulted in 18 saved lives since December 2002.