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Commentary: Saving a Life by Enabling Boston’s Good Samaritans

By Dr. Glenn W. Laub, Defibtech CEO

Just a few days ago, three Good Samaritan rescuers in Boston used a Defibtech automated external defibrillator (AED) to save the life of a man who collapsed at the North Station rail platform. To save this victim of sudden cardiac arrest, these Good Samaritans needed to react with a readily available AED in just a few minutes. That’s because almost all sudden cardiac arrest victims left unattended for 10 minutes die. Victims treated with an AED within five minutes usually live. Expecting EMS to arrive within 10 minutes, especially in Boston traffic, places unrealistic expectations on these professional responders.

The man whose life was saved benefited from an AED being available due to the efforts of advocates including Marlene Allen, the widow of Dr. James R. Allen. She encouraged the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to install the AEDs after her husband died on an MBTA train unequipped with an AED. All individuals saved by AEDs also benefit from the esteem our society places on Good Samaritan acts and from the desire of many organizations to do the right thing and make these lifesaving devices available.

Laws must support our natural impulse to help

However, our natural impulse to respond humanely is sometimes tempered by legal concerns, either real or perceived. Concerns about legal risks posed by the use of AEDs still remain, despite the thousands of lives saved by these devices and laws that provide lifesavers with civil immunity.

As the lifesaving in Boston shows, organizations considering AED deployment should not let liability concerns be a barrier. A carefully planned, implemented and maintained AED program can mitigate any liability risks while saving lives. A 2004 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that public access to AEDs significantly improved the chances of survival from sudden cardiac arrest.

Good Samaritan laws protect rescuers from unfair lawsuits

Aptly named Good Samaritan laws protect from liability individuals who choose to aid people who are injured or ill. A specific type of Good Samaritan law, the federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act, signed into law in 2000, protects individuals and building owners acting in good faith to save a life with an AED from unfair lawsuits. Plus, Good Samaritan laws in Massachusetts provide immunity to AED rescuers. As a result of these laws, AEDs have become more commonplace in public areas.

Liability tide shifts in favor of having AEDs

Just like a fire extinguisher or any other safety device, an AED must be properly maintained after it is purchased and placed into service. In addition, individuals in an organization should be trained on how to use an AED as part as an overall emergency-response plan. While failure to adequately maintain AEDs or train individuals on how to use them may still represent a liability pitfall, these concerns are heavily outweighed by the risks organizations take by not having AEDs.

The liability tide has shifted in favor of having AEDs and personnel trained in CPR readily available. Several organizations have been successfully sued after individuals died because AEDs were not available or because employees did not receive proper AED training. The nation’s courts have increasingly acknowledged the availability of an AED as a “required standard of care” for employees and citizens in public areas.

Help form the “chain of survival”

Making AEDs more widely available to trained emergency responders can save tens of thousands of lives, according to the American Heart Association. In many communities and organizations, a four-step “chain of survival” process (early access by calling 9-1-1, early CPR, early AED treatment, and early advance care) is already saving lives.

I strongly encourage all organizations to do the right thing for their customers – protect them from sudden cardiac arrest through the implementation of a well-planned, managed and maintained AED program.

Dr. Glenn W. Laub is a practicing cardiac surgeon and CEO of Defibtech, a creator and manufacturer of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) located in Guilford, Conn.

Safety Ireland First Response is the sole authorised distributor for Defibtech LLC products in Ireland. Only units sold by us or our approved resellers are covered under warranty. We are also an approved training site for the Irish Heart Foundation & the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council.  Safety Ireland with Defibtech have the highest level of support available in Ireland for defibrillators. With our main office just off the M50 in Terenure Dublin, and offices in Limerick, Offaly and Wexford we are able to provide the best support and service possible in Ireland.

Safety Ireland Accreditation:

  • Irish Heart Foundation  - IHF -  Approved Training Site.
  • Quality & Qualifications Ireland - QQI - Approved Training Provider.
  • Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council - PHECC -  Recognised Institution.
  • Institution of Occupational Safety and Health - IOSH - Licensed Training Provider.

    Safety Ireland First Response Limited, Registered in Dublin Ireland.
    Unit 52 Fortfield Park,
    Terenure,
    Dublin D6W PW14,
    Ireland.

    Phone: 01-44 22 999
    Callsave: 1850 555 999
    Email: info@defibtech.ie

    Office Hours: 9am till 5pm Monday - Friday

    Defibtech is a registered Trade Mark in Ireland number 242083 & 246780.

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    Every defibrillator is not the same. Defibtech units have the highest standard available FDA, ISO and CE certification, don't settle for second best. Always ensure that your unit is approved by the FDA who regulate the worlds largest medical device market, if the defibrillator you are considering purchasing isn't approved for sale by the FDA there is a reason, it didn't meet the highest standard.
    Free Approved Defibrillator Training
    With every defibrillator purchased you can have eight participants trained for free in our training centre in Terenure, Dublin. The training provided is to approved Cardiac First Responder and Irish Heart Foundation level and certificates are issued to each participant.
    Warranty
    The Defibtech AED has a full eight year warranty from the date of purchase. In the unlikely event that the unit requires maintenance you will have a new replacement defibrillator within one working day while the unit is checked and serviced. If you unit can't be fixed you will be issued with a new replacement defibrillator during the warranty period.
    Free Service Checks
    Every two years we can download the information from the location where the defibrillator is installed and do a free full service check this includes any software or protocols updates on the unit to assure you that your AED is ready to perform a rescue. Also anytime you can call into our office to have your unit checked for free.
    24 Hour Irish Support
    If you ever need any assistance just call or email, we are here 24 hours a day to assist you our clients. Even if you need onsite support this is also available nationwide. We can assist you by running a manual self-test on the unit over the telephone.
    Medical Overview
    We can provide you with AED policies for your workplace or community group also after you use your defibrillator unit, if you require we will provide you with a free medical audit as recorded by the unit.
    Review Software
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    Call Into Our Office
    Many defibrillators are just for sale over the internet with no real offices based in Ireland. Call into us anytime and view and try our defibrillator products before you buy. You will me able to meet the staff and see the support that is available to you 24 hours a day nationwide.
    Downloads
    About Safety Ireland & Defibtech National Defibrillator Standards 2008
       
    Details about Defibtech Defibrillators A Study Of The Usability Of Five
    Automated External Defibrillators
       
    Details Of Storage Options For
    Defibrillators
    Frequently Asked Questions About AEDs
       
    Details Of Our Quality Assurance Report of the Task Force on
    Sudden Cardiac Death
                 
    Details Of Our Well-known Companies
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