Posted on 05/13/2011

Newswise — (Washington, DC) - People who suffer sudden cardiac arrest at District libraries now have access to automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) at all locations thanks to a partnership between the Federation of Friends of DC Public Library, Mended Hearts, Inc. and The George Washington University Cheney Cardiovascular Institute.

“Sudden cardiac arrest can happen anywhere, at any time,” said Ginnie Cooper, chief librarian for the District of Columbia. “Thanks to this generous donation, the Library and its staff are ready to assist should the need arise.” 

The Federation of Friends of DC Public Library and Mended Hearts, Inc. jointly raised $35,000 to have AEDS installed in every DC Public Library. Their efforts were complemented by the Cheney Cardiovascular Institute, which donated the remaining costs for the AEDs as well as CPR training for nearly 100 library staff as part of their ReStart DC program. The AEDs have been installed near the circulation desks at neighborhood libraries.

“The Federation, Mended Hearts, Inc., and the Cheney Cardiovascular Institute have worked together to ensure that District residents in every ward have access to lifesaving heart equipment when they visit a library,” said Susan Haight, president of the Federation of Friends of the DC Library. “In these resource-strained times, the Federation is delighted to be able to provide this gift of life to the District.”

“We felt it was important to have these life-saving devices out in the city’s neighborhoods,” said Neal Gregory, president of Mended Hearts National Capital Chapter. “Libraries are strategically located throughout the city, serving as gathering places where people can learn about heart disease and the importance of maintaining heart-healthy lifestyles.”

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the leading cause of death in the U.S., striking more that 300,000 people each year. SCA victims usually collapse without warning and quickly lose consciousness. Death can follow within a matter of minutes unless a normal heart rhythm is restored. Immediate CPR and the timely use of an AED can restore a heart’s natural rhythm.

“While we pride ourselves on being the premier cardiac emergency facility in the city, cardiac patients often reach us too late,” said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, director of Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at The George Washington University Hospital and professor of Medicine at The George Washington University. “By deploying AEDs and training people in CPR, we are enlisting the entire community in our efforts to save more lives.”