New government legislation that mandates the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and provides funding for their deployment is on the rise.
Even the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has jumped into the regulatory fray by issuing a highly unusual "prompt letter" that encouraged the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to initiate new regulations that would mandate placing AEDs in the nation''s workplaces.
OSHA responded this week by issuing a Technical Information Bulletin and information resource outlining the potential benefits of workplace AED Programs. (See related article, "AED Saves Life at Department of Labor")
The recent efforts to increase the number of AEDs in the workplace are aimed at increasing the chances of survival of cardiac arrest victims, the number one killer of Americans accounting for over 465,000 deaths each year.
According to a letter from Assistant Secretary of Labor John Henshaw, who administers OSHA, the agency will distribute this information to more than 125 trade, professional and union organizations as well as feature the benefits of AEDs on their Web site. (These documents can be accessed via the Internet at www.osha.gov/media/oshnews/dec01/trade-20011217A.html.)
A host of AED-related bills are currently being introduced at the federal level and in state governments across the nation. The first of the bills, the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act, which directed the placement of AEDs in federal buildings around the nation, was signed by President Bill Clinton in November 2000. A companion bill, the Rural Access to Emergency Devices Act, authorized $25 million in federal funds to help rural communities purchase AEDs and to provide training in how to use them.
More recently, the Community Access to Emergency Defibrillation Act of 2001 was introduced into the House of Representatives this month. Authored by Lois Capps, D-Calif. and John Shimkus, R-Ill., the bill earmarks $55 million a year for five years for communities to buy AEDs and establish access to defibrillation programs. A companion and identical bill was introduced in the Senate by Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and William Frist, R-Tenn.
Representatives Capps and Shimkus have also introduced a bill in the House that provides guidance and resources to schools for public access to defibrillation programs - the Automatic Defibrillators in Adams Memory Act.
Raymond W. Cohen, president and CEO of Cardiac Science Inc., manufacturers of the Survivalink AED, says the education of the public and the exposure to the concept of public access defibrillators has been given an enormous boost by the recent spate of governmental actions in this area.
"From a commercial standpoint, this regulatory activity expands our market and is obviously good news," said Cohen. "We are also encouraged that legislators at the state and Federal level have come to recognize the fact that public access defibrillation is among the most important public health topics of this decade. We applaud these and future actions aimed at improving public safety."
by Sandy Smith ([email protected])