Washington, DC--In recognition of National Sudden Cardiac Awareness Month, the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Coalition (SCAC), in cooperation with the Congressional Heart and Stroke Caucus, hosted “Take a Stand Against Sudden Cardiac Arrest,” a two-hour event teaching the basics of Hands-Only CPR and use of AEDs (automated external defibrillators) Wednesday in the Rayburn House Office Building Foyer on Capitol Hill.
The Coalition is comprised of 50 non-profit organizations with a common interest in preventing death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest. The event featured four, concurrent-training sessions on CPR and AED use and recognized legislators for their important work raising awareness of SCA.
“Each year more than 295,000 people die from SCA, yet many of these deaths are preventable. Currently the average survival rate for out-of-hospital SCA is about 8 percent, but if the public better understood the need for immediate bystander intervention with CPR and automated external defibrillators (AEDs), survival rates could increase to 34 percent or more,” said Mary Newman, MS, Coalition co-chair.
Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) was honored for her work in introducing the “Teaching Children to Save Lives Act,” which will help provide grants for programs to teach school children and teens CPR and how to use an AED — knowledge and skills they can carry into adulthood. “By training the next generation of students in CPR and AED response, they may one day save the life of a classmate, friend, family member or complete stranger,” said Capps. She read a statement supporting her legislation from Kylee Shea, the 12-year-old who was recently saved at a Dallas-area middle school by the quick action of her teachers who gave her CPR and used the school’s AED. (See below.)
Representative Phil Roe (R-TN) was recognized at the event for his heroic actions last month in helping save the life of a 52-year-old father of three. Dr. Roe thanked the coalition for reminding the public that immediate bystander intervention with CPR and AEDs dramatically improve survival rates. Modern AEDs are designed to be used by any motivated bystander, regardless of training, he said. “AEDs are idiot proof.” Rep. Roe thanked the Coalition for teaching others not to be afraid to use an AED to save a life.
Benjamin Abella, MD, MPhil, of the Center for Resuscitation Science in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, discussed the importance of bystander intervention in cases of sudden cardiac arrest, which, he said, can mean the difference between life and death. “As compelling as the statistics are, however, it is the stories of survival shared by survivors of sudden cardiac arrest that really bring the message home.”
Three SCA survivors who were saved by bystander intervention then gave testimonials. Pam Bonin, special events manager at Oliver Winery in Bloomington, IN, collapsed in her chair at a work event when she was 26. Without delay, her coworkers began CPR and called 911. After 15 minutes of CPR, paramedics arrived with the AED. “The only reason I was able to recover was because of the quick CPR response and the AED that came with the paramedics,” says Pam. Her employer, Oliver Winery, purchased an AED and now all of their managers are CPR and AED certified.
Seven months after completing an Ironman Triathlete competition, Henry Jampel, MD, of Baltimore, MD, then 44, suffered SCA after a swim workout. His friends immediately started CPR and kept it up for 27 minutes until EMS arrived and provided defibrillation. “If it were not for the quick and determined action of my friends, I would not be here speaking to you today, and I would not have had been with my family—including my son, Joseph, who is in the audience, all these years since my event in 2000,” he said. “Quick bystander action often means the difference between life and death -- between happy families and shattered families.”
Survivor Liz Pearlman, of Chicago, IL, then shared her story. She was a 21-year-old college athlete when she collapsed while running during basketball practice. It was the quick actions of the head athletic trainer that saved her life. He administered CPR and called for the AED that delivered two shocks to restore her heartbeat. Liz was diagnosed with Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD) and now has a pacemaker/implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Liz's brother has also been diagnosed with ARVD, which illustrates that the risk of sudden death can be genetic. “I am living proof that AEDs save lives,” she said.
The moral of the story? “People of all ages should learn how to recognize SCA, give CPR, and become familiar with AEDs,” said Lisa Levine, CAE, Coalition co-chair.
“My name is Kylee Shea and I am 12-years-old. On September 26, 2011, I collapsed at school in the hallway on the way to gym class. I felt fine that morning, just like any other morning. I had no warning but feeling tired enough to want to sit down. That's all I remember until the helicopter ride to the hospital. I have an arrhythmia. It caused my heart to go into a nasty pattern, which then made it stop. I don't know what caused my arrhythmia. The doctors don't even know yet. But here is what I do know: My coaches used an AED to save my life. The doctors said my heart needed to be shocked and CPR alone would not have been enough. I do know that Texas has a law that requires AED's be in all schools and I thank God for it. I do know that if I had been at a place where there was not an AED at the time this happened, I would not have survived. This can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Your son, daughter, sister, brother, parents....the list goes on. I learned that recently and it’s a miracle I am alive to tell you about it. What does this say to me? It says AEDs and properly trained people need to be in schools and public places nationwide. If that is what it says to me (may I remind you I'm 12), what does it say to you?”
SCA Coalition Initiatives
The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Coalition is comprised of 50 nonprofit organizations with a common goal to prevent death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). The Coalition focuses on federal legislative initiatives designed to raise awareness, support research, and improve access to lifesaving therapies. The Coalition is working on the following initiatives:
Garnering support for H.R. 3189: Teaching Children to Save Lives Act, sponsored by Rep. Lois Capps. This program would provide grants to schools to teach students CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED)
Restoring funding for the Rural and Community Access to Emergency Devices Act to the 2005 level of $9 million. This program provides competively awarded grants to rural communities to purchase AEDs and train first responders and lay rescuers in their use.
Seeking co-sponsors of the Josh Miller HEARTS (Helping Everyone Access Responsible Treatment in Schools) Act, to be introduced by Rep. Betty Sutton and Sen. Sherrod Brown in coming weeks. This program would provide funding to schools for the purchase of AEDs and for CPR-AED training.
About the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Coalition
The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Coalition is comprised of 50 organizations passionate about preventing death and disability from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) through legislative initiatives designed to raise awareness, support research, and improve access to life-saving therapies. We work collaboratively on a national level to achieve results with Congress, the Administration, other policy makers, the media, healthcare providers, and the public. See attachment for a roster of Coalition members. For more information, visit www.stopcardiacarrest.org.