New National Center For Early Defibrillation at the University Of Pittsburgh provides information about life-saving devices at critical time
November 28, 2000
More than 700 people die each day in the United States from sudden cardiac death, lives that might have been saved had there been an automated external defibrillator (AED) nearby at the time of collapse. A new center housed at the University of Pittsburgh wants to ensure that everyone who suffers from sudden cardiac death -- whether in a congested urban center or remote rural roadway -- has immediate access to such devices.
Indeed, new legislation recently signed by President Clinton encourages the placement of AEDs in all federal buildings. And recent studies have shown that having AEDs in public places, such as on airplanes or in casinos, saves lives. While AEDs are increasingly being placed in public places, most buildings and communities still do not have access to them. To help communities and organizations learn about how they can set up successful AED programs, the National Center for Early Defibrillation (NCED) was established at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Emergency Medicine and its affiliated Center for Emergency Medicine of Western Pennsylvania. It is the only national clearinghouse dedicated to providing comprehensive information on AEDs.
"We feel that the establishment of this center could not be at a more critical time. More and more organizations are going to be hearing about the merits of AEDs, and more and more will be seeking reliable and useful information," said Mary Newman, NCED's executive director, a nationally recognized cardiac and emergency medical services educator and researcher.
The NCED is an independent, nonprofit resource and advocacy center dedicated to improving survival from sudden cardiac arrest. Its Web site, www.early-defib.org, provides manufacturer-neutral information about different devices, the latest reports and legislative news as well as guidance for such entities as schools, industry or municipalities wanting to learn how to go about establishing an AED program. A toll-free number (1-866-AED-INFO) is also available for telephone consultation. In the future, information packets will be designed to meet the needs of special audiences, including emergency medical services, public safety agencies, civic organizations and heart patients and their families. A network for survivors also will be established for the purpose of providing rehabilitative and psychological support services.
A group of resuscitation experts serve as advisors, and the NCED also collaborates with other organizations seeking to improve survival from sudden cardiac arrest.
About 225,000 sudden cardiac deaths occur each year in the United States. Survival rates can range from 1 to 5 percent in most communities. As many as 30 to 50 percent more could survive if cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and AEDs were used within five minutes of a collapse.
An AED is a small portable device that analyzes heart rhythms and advises the operator, through computerized voice instructions, when to push a button to deliver a potentially lifesaving shock to the victim. They are safe, effective and easy to use. Most AEDs are no bigger than a laptop computer, weighing less than 10 pounds.
"Early defibrillation is a critical link in the chain-of-survival because the time between collapse and defibrillation is a key indicator of survival from sudden cardiac arrest. Previous studies have shown if early defibrillation is provided within the first minute, the odds are 90 percent that the victim's life can be saved. After that, the rate of survival drops 10 percent with every minute," explained Vince Mosesso, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and medical director of the NCED. Dr. Mosesso, who has worked with several corporations to develop AED programs, conducted a landmark study involving police who used AEDs when they were the first to arrive at the scene.
The "Chain of Survival," the widely adopted metaphor created by the NCED's Ms. Newman, includes four steps: calling 9-1-1, beginning CPR, using an AED as soon as possible, and receiving advanced life support by professional emergency medical services personnel.
"We wanted to establish the center in order to address a serious problem in the United States -- lives being lost to sudden cardiac death. Furthermore, as an academic department of emergency medicine, the center also fits into our educational mission. We are grateful to those foundations that have allowed us to realize our goals," said Paul Paris, M.D., chairman of the department of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and associate medical director of the NCED.
Major support for the NCED was provided by the Medtronic Foundation/Medtronic Physio-Control Corporation. Additional funding has been provided by the Asmund S. Laerdal Foundation for Acute Medicine, Inc./Laerdal Companies Worldwide and Agilent Technologies/Heartstream Division, among others.
For more information on the NCED, please call 1-866-AED-INFO, or go to www.early-defib.org.
Note To Editors: To arrange interviews with people who have used or been saved by AEDs, or to talk to organizations that have already placed AEDs in their facilities, please call the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's News Bureau at (412) 647-3555.