AED Saves Life at Department of Labor

Dec. 18, 2001
Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have proven their value at the Department of Labor, where one was used to resuscitate an employee last week.

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have proven their value at the U.S. Department of Labor headquarters, where they are strategically placed throughout the building.

Last Friday, a Labor Department employee collapsed. Co-workers called the DOL Health Unit, and a nurse came and used a nearby AED to treat the victim. The individual was resuscitated, sent to the hospital and is now recuperating following heart surgery.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) yesterday encouraged employers to consider making AEDs available in their workplaces.

"AEDs are easy to use and can make the critical difference in reviving individuals who suffer a cardiac crisis," said OSHA Administrator John L. Henshaw. "Administered within three minutes, the electric shock (defibrillation) restores the normal rhythm to the victim's heart and can increase survival rates from less than 5 percent to nearly 75 percent. Immediate defibrillation can revive more than 90 percent of victims."

OSHA has issued a fact card and a technical information bulletin on the use of AEDs, encouraging employers to take advantage of this technology. AEDs are lightweight and run on rechargeable batteries. They are designed to analyze the heart rhythm and automatically indicate when to administer the shock. Each unit costs from $3,000 to $4,500.

Each year 300,000 to 400,000 individuals die from cardiac arrest. Most of these deaths occur outside hospitals. Cardiac arrest is often due to chaotic beating of the heart, which can be restored to normal rhythm if treated promptly with defibrillation. With each minute of delay in defibrillation, 10 percent fewer victims survive.

Placing AEDs in workplaces could significantly increase survival rates. In 1999 and 2000, 815 of 6,339 workplace fatalities reported to OSHA resulted from cardiac arrest. The agency estimates if AEDs helped restore 40 percent of those who suffer a cardiac crisis, as many as 120 lives would be saved each year. Workers involved in shift work, holding high stress jobs, or exposed to certain chemicals or electrical hazards face a higher risk of heart disease and cardiac arrest.

The new OSHA fact card and technical information bulletin are available on OSHA's Web site at" {AED Card} and {Technical Information Bulletin}, and through the agency's publications office at 1-800-321-OSHA.

The agency notes that the purpose of the AED card and the Technical Information Bulletin is for information only and does not impose any new legal obligations or constraints on employers.

edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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