Tennessee Senator Champions Value of AEDs

Tennessee Senator Champions Value of AEDs

SOUTH PITTSBURG, TN–Tennessee Senator Bo Watson (R) spoke to a group at the Western Sizzlin’ on Thursday concerning his advocacy for legislation to implement the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in both the public and private sectors.

“It seems practical to me for legislation to utilize this technology and allow its use without liability. The common layperson should be asserted certain protection to use AEDs without the fear of a lawsuit,” Watson said. “Cities should allow people to use these devices without having a civil lawsuit on their hands.”

About 166,200 people each year from sudden cardiac arrest, according to American Heart Association statistics, with the vast majority of those due to ventricular fibrillation. Studies show the survival rate of individuals with ventricular fibrillation to be 50 to 70 percent greater with the use of AEDs compared to only five to 10 percent with the use of CPR only.

“I hope that today I may provide the spark in your own county for the support of AEDs,” Watson said in the meeting.

Watson, who represents District 11 encompassing parts of Chattanooga, had first hand experience of the life-saving value of AEDs. While Watson was eating at Fall Creek Falls in Chattanooga, a gentlemen went into cardiac arrest. Watson, who himself is a physical therapist, started CPR and asked an attendant if they had an AED. The attendant retrieved the AED from a Ranger’s truck nearby and Watson attached the computer driven device with its disposable pads.

“AEDs are almost monkey-proof. The machine has diagrams on where to place the pads on a patient. Based on a electro-cardiogram performed by the machine, the AED makes a technological decision as to when an individual needs an electric shock,” Watson explained. “We need to have these devices readily available to both households and public places. Organizations and companies should not be hesitant to supply AEDs at public events because of liability concerns.”

Watson said he is currently working with the American Heart Association and the Tennessee Medical Association to develop a bill and make it work.

“I think we’re getting close. The two avenues for use of these devices would be the public setting at such events as county fairs and sports games along, and the private setting in households and businesses. We would have to separate those two out,” Watson said. “My ultimate goal is to improve the public welfare and safety of our citizens. People are finally starting to realize the value of AEDs.”

AEDs have become a particularly hot topic in Marion County after the passing of Marion County Commissioner Robert “Slick” Hudson following a cardiac arrest during a commissioners meeting on June 25.

-John Patrick, Jasper Journal

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