Rural AED Bill

Call for support of appropriation of funding for AEDs in rural communities

February 21, 2001

The Rural AED Bill, which passed as a component of the Public Health Improvement Act of 2000, authorizes expenditure of up to $25 million in funds to help rural communities purchase AEDs and to train emergency response crews, including police and fire personnel. The American Heart Association is now circulating a sign-on letter to the president and Office of Management and Budget requesting inclusion of the appropriation in the FY 2002 budget. The National Center for Early Defibrillation supports this initiative. Other organizations interested in signing the letter below should contact by 12 pm, Friday, February 23.

Sign-on letter to President Bush:

February 23, 2001

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

In the final days of the 106th Congress, the Rural Access to Emergency Devices Act, (Rural AED) as amended to the Public Health Improvement Act of 2000, became law. Today, we write asking for your support in securing funding for this bipartisan effort to help save the lives of tens of thousands of Americans each year.

The Rural AED Act establishes a federal grant program allowing rural community partnerships to purchase automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Cardiac arrest, a malfunction of the electrical rhythms of the heart, causes the death of more than 250,000 people each year. Communities with aggressive AED placement plans have shifted local survival rates dramatically, and the American Heart Association estimates that placing these devices in more public settings could save 50,000 thousand lives each year.

The Act authorized $25 million in funding over three years for supportive grants. In addition, it directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Rural Health Outreach Office of the Health Resources and Services Administration to make funds available to rural communities for the purchase of these devices.

Automated external defibrillators are small, easy-to-use devices that can promptly shock a heart back into normal rhythm, saving the life of a cardiac arrest victim. Cardiac science has shown, however, that time is of the essence with cardiac arrest victims. Each minute that passes lowers a victim's chance of survival by 10 percent. For this reason, AEDs must be readily available as part of a larger chain of survival. Placing AEDs at the disposal of rural police forces, fire departments, first responders, and community organizations is critical to positively impacting the survival rates of cardiac arrest victims in these settings. But many rural communities cannot afford the initial purchase of AEDs on their own.

We cannot leave rural communities behind in the fight to lower cardiac arrest mortality rates. We strongly encourage your support for appropriating funds in your Fiscal Year 2001 Budget request and ask that you fully fund this grant program.

We look forward to working with you on this and other critical issues, and appreciate your efforts on behalf of cardiac arrest victims.



    Mitch Daniels (Director, OMB)
    Jim Capretta (OMB)