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Congress Clears the Way for National CPR and AED Awareness Week

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross and the American Heart Association join in thanking Congress for passing a bill designating the first week of June "National Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Awareness Week".

The passing of this resolution shines a national spotlight on how important it is for all Americans to learn critical lifesaving skills such as how to perform CPR, how to use an AED and the need to increase public access to AEDs.

In reaction to the staggering 95 percent mortality rate for the over 300,000 Americans who are victims of sudden cardiac arrest each year, House members Reps. John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr. (R-NY), and Dan Boren (D-OK) co-sponsored the bill (H.Con.Res. 215), which successfully passed the House on Dec. 11.

"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 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."

It is estimated that on average it takes eight to 10 minutes for first responders (9-1-1) to reach a victim. Therefore, it is essential for the public to be trained and certified in lifesaving skills in order to feel comfortable performing CPR and using an AED until advanced help arrives.

"These procedures save lives and increasing the training and awareness of them will serve to protect all of us," Boren said. "Access to these techniques provides cardiac arrest victims with the precious moments they need to reach hospital care."

The Senate version of the bill (S.Con.Res. 54) was co-sponsored by Sens. Russell Feingold (D-W) and Susan Collins (R-ME), who championed the bill to its successful passage on Dec. 6.

"Establishing a National CPR and AED Awareness Week is an essential step towards ensuring communities across the country are able to properly respond if tragedy strikes," Feingold said. "The more we can do to educate our communities on how to conduct CPR and operate AEDs, the more lives we can save."

"I am proud to have worked with Sen. Feingold to increase access to AEDs for small towns and rural communities. Since our Rural AED Act was signed into law, it has provided rural communities with more than $40 million to purchase life-saving AEDs," said Sen. Collins. "Now, it is time to take another step. I am pleased to join Sen. Feingold and work with the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association in supporting National Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Automated External Defibrillator Awareness Week. Together, we can save lives."

The passing of the National CPR and AED Awareness resolution will give a large boost to accomplishing the Red Cross and the Heart Association's shared vision of having all Americans to be within four minutes of an AED device and someone trained to use it. Scientific studies show that for every minute defibrillation is delayed; there is an approximate 10 percent decrease in the likelihood of resuscitation.

"This vote sends the message that Americans should learn how to perform CPR and operate a defibrillator and make both a priority," said Robert O'Connor, M.D., Chair of the American Heart Association's Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee. "If more Americans receive CPR and AED training, then sudden cardiac arrest victims have a much greater chance of survival."

With news of the final passage, training organizations such as the Red Cross, the Heart Association and the National Safety Council will be working together to recognize the landmark resolution by hosting nationwide ceremonies, community activities and educational outreach efforts.

"It is gratifying to know the House and the Senate have supported the effort to make lifesaving training a national effort," said, Scott Conner, senior vice president for American Red Cross Preparedness and Health and Safety Services. "This vote is a big step toward calling the nation's attention to the Red Cross' goal of having at least one person in every household and workplace trained in CPR/AED."

The resolution will now go before the president to be signed into law.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

About the American Heart Association:

Founded in 1924, the American Heart Association (AHA) today is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to reducing disability and death from cardiovascular diseases and stroke. These diseases, America's No. 1 and No. 3 killers, claim more than 910,000 lives a year. In fiscal year 2004-05 the association invested over $473 million in research, professional and public education, advocacy and community service programs to help all Americans live longer, healthier lives. To learn more, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit

SOURCE American Red Cross
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