Los Angeles Airport AED Program

Heart defibrillators to be installed at city of Los Angeles airports; Program with non-profit Start-A-Heart sets precedent for other city departments

November 28, 2000

Under a contract approved on August 22 by the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners, a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization called Start-A-Heart will provide donations of nearly 120 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for installation at Los Angeles International (LAX), Ontario International (ONT), Palmdale Regional and Van Nuys airports.

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), which owns and operates the four airports, is the first Los Angeles City department to place this equipment in its facilities. The donation program is setting a precedent for other City entities, such as the Los Angeles Unified School District and Department of Recreation and Parks, to follow.

An automated external defibrillator applies an electrical shock to a person whose heart has gone into fibrillation or abnormal rhythm. The shock causes the heart to defibrillate and return to a more normal rhythm. When a rescuer opens one of the cabinets, a call automatically will be made to 9-1-1. Paramedics of the Los Angeles Fire Department at LAX and the LAWA safety officer team at ONT, as well as Airport Police at both airports, will respond to the scene.

According to the American Heart Association, sudden cardiac arrest claims nearly 250,000 lives in the United States annually. The association estimates that more than 50,000 lives can be saved yearly if automated external defibrillators are made available to the general public during such emergencies and defibrillation occurs within five minutes of the incident.

"This is an excellent opportunity for Los Angeles World Airports to set a precedent for automated external defibrillators to be accessible citywide," said Los Angeles City Councilmember Rudy Svorinich Jr. (District 15). "The AED program is a proactive effort that uses the technologies available today for the enhanced safety and protection of our community."

Councilmember Svorinich introduced a motion that was passed by the City Council in February 1999, mandating City departments to develop a program for distributing AEDs.

LAWA Executive Director Lydia H. Kennard said, "Our first and foremost responsibility at our four airports is passenger safety. The defibrillators are easy to use, yet will empower airport-wide employees and passengers to save lives. There is no better way to provide quality passenger service than to save their lives."

Lyle Gregory, an entertainment industry veteran and advisor to the Start-A-Heart board of directors, said, "Our partnership with Los Angeles World Airports and the American Heart Association will help facilitate public access to heart defibrillators." Start-A-Heart is working with the American Heart Association to provide widespread access to the AED.

"By agreeing to place AEDs in Los Angeles World Airports' facilities, the Board of Airport Commissioners has demonstrated its commitment to the traveling public," said Dr. Frederick W. James, president of the American Heart Association (AHA), Western States Affiliate. "AEDs provide us all with the opportunity to become lifesavers. It's now the responsibility of everyone in the community to learn how to perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and to use these devices."

According to Dr. James, the AHA promotes the use of both CPR and AEDs because association studies show that while CPR can increase the survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest victims by extending the time available for defibrillation, CPR is not a substitute for defibrillation.

The automated external defibrillator is portable--about 4.2 pounds and the size of a telephone directory. The AED requires no medical training to operate. With a push of the button, the machine provides voice prompts to guide a layman in its use. Diagrams are included to show where to place defibrillator pads over a victim's chest.

Once the pads are in place, the defibrillator conducts a multi-faceted analysis to determine whether defibrillation is necessary. An electrical shock can only be administered when the AED monitor recommends it.

LAWA expects to begin installing the automated external defibrillators at its four airports early 2001.

Los Angeles World Airports is a self-supporting department of the City of Los Angeles, which owns and operates a world-class system of four airports: Los Angeles International, Ontario International, Palmdale Regional and Van Nuys.

LAWA's combined operations move 70.5 million passengers and 2.6 million tons of cargo annually; create 409,000 direct and indirect jobs; and generate $70 billion in economic impacts through an innovative transportation gateway that fuels the regional economy and links Los Angeles and Southern California to the world.