Posted on 09/20/2007

September 20, 2007–WASHINGTON–The American Red Cross and American Heart Association have joined to applaud federal legislation that would designate the first week of June as “National Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Week.” The bill, introduced today by U.S. Representatives John R. “Randy” Kuhl, Jr. (R-NY), and Dan Boren (D-OK) would further educate Americans about the necessity of CPR and AED training and use to reduce death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

“This legislation will help Americans save lives at the community level,” said Rep. Kuhl. “If you suffer sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, you have (about) a five percent chance of survival. It doesn't have to be that way. If we can train more Americans in performing CPR and using AEDs, we can save more lives.”

Approximately 250,000 Americans suffer SCA each year and about 93 percent of them die before reaching the hospital. If CPR and defibrillation are not applied within 10 minutes after SCA, there is virtually no chance of survival. However, in cities where defibrillation is provided within five to seven minutes, the survival rate from SCA is as high as 49 percent.

The goal of a National CPR and AED Awareness Week is to encourage states, cities, and towns to establish well-organized programs that provide CPR and AED trainings and increase public access to AEDs.

“Increased awareness of health issues and access to health care are both important to me,” Boren said. “As the leading cause of death in the U.S., it is critical that we continue to demonstrate the dangers of heart disease and support programs that provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation training and increased public access to automated defibrillators. I am proud to help establish a nationally recognized week to help raise the awareness of these important issues.”

The legislation also requests that the President of the United States issue a proclamation making the week permanent. This would coincide with the American Heart Association and Red Cross campaigns to raise public awareness about CPR and AED use.

“The Red Cross has been advocating for the nation to prepare for all types of emergencies; and part of that call to action is to take training in lifesaving skills such as CPR and AED," said Scott Conner, Vice President for American Red Cross Preparedness and Health And Safety Services. "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 American Heart Association and most Emergency Medical Service (EMS) responders advocate the “Chain of Survival,”* which represents the four crucial links of the emergency treatment of SCA. The links include:

  1. Early Access to Care
  2. Early Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, or CPR
  3. Early Defibrillation
  4. Early Advanced Care

“The chain of survival is only as strong as its most critical links, which in most cases of cardiac arrest are early CPR and defibrillation," said Robert O'Connor, Chair of the American Heart Association's Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee. “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."

SOURCE American Red Cross

Source: American Red Cross, PRNewswire-USNewswire press release

*NOTE: The SCA Foundation also advocates Chain of Survival, but also promotes additional links at either end of the chain: Early Recognition and Early Follow-Up Care, as shown in the following graphic.

Chain of Survival

  1. Step 1: Recognize the emergency and decide to act

  2. Step 2: Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number
  3. Step 3: Start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
  4. Step 4: Use AED (automated external defibrillator)

  5. Step 5: Transfer to EMS (emergency medical services)
  6. Step 6: Get follow-up care.

Read more about the Bill introduced - Download PDF