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National CPR/AED Awareness Week Introduced in Congress

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross and American Heart Association have joined to applaud federal legislation that would designate the first week of June as "National Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Week." The bill, introduced today by U.S. Representatives John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr. (R-NY), and Dan Boren (D-OK) would further educate Americans about the necessity of CPR and AED training and use to reduce death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest.

"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."

Approximately 325,000 Americans suffer sudden cardiac arrest each year and more than 95 percent of them die before reaching the hospital. If CPR and defibrillation are not applied within 10 minutes after sudden cardiac arrest, there is virtually no chance of survival. However, in cities where defibrillation is provided within five to seven minutes, the survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest is as high as 49 percent.

The goal of a National CPR and AED awareness week is to encourage states, cities, and towns to establish well-organized programs that provide CPR and AED trainings and increase public access to AEDs.

"Increased awareness of health issues and access to health care are both important to me," Boren said. "As the leading cause of death in the U.S., it is critical that we continue to demonstrate the dangers of heart disease and support programs that provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation training and increased public access to automated defibrillators. I am proud to help establish a nationally recognized week to help raise the awareness of these important issues."

The legislation also requests that the President of the United States issue a proclamation making the week permanent. This would coincide with the American Heart Association and Red Cross campaigns to raise public awareness about CPR and AED use.

"The Red Cross has been advocating for the nation to prepare for all types of emergencies; and part of that call to action is to take training in lifesaving skills such as CPR and AED," said, Scott Conner, Vice President for American Red Cross Preparedness and Health And Safety Services. "It's wonderful to have a week devoted to calling people's attention to the fact that saving someone's life is as simple as taking a class."

The American Heart Association and most Emergency Medical Service (EMS) responders advocate the "chain of survival," which represents the four crucial links of the emergency treatment of sudden cardiac arrest. The links are:

1) Early Access to Care

2) Early Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, or CPR

3) Early Defibrillation

4) Early Advanced Care

"The chain of survival is only as strong as its most critical links, which in most cases of cardiac arrest is early CPR and defibrillation," said Robert O'Connor, Chair of the American Heart Association's Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee. "It is crucial that more Americans are trained in CPR and that AEDs are made more accessible to the public. A national awareness week will be a strong step for our nation in making that a priority."

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.

SOURCE American Red Cross
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