Consumers wouldnt think twice about avoiding an automobile with no seat belts. Seat belt use is common sense and common practice. Its also the law in many states, where interstate highways advocate the motto, “Seat Belts Save Lives.”
Similarly, a modern lifesaving technology–the automated external defibrillator–should be equally as accessible in the workplace.
The small, laptop device, which can weigh as little as five pounds, is the only definitive treatment for sudden cardiac arrest, a life-threatening condition where the heart loses its normal rhythm, stops pumping blood, and goes into a dangerous quivering state termed “fibrillation.” The AED delivers a defibrillation countershock to restart the hearts normal rhythm.
The American Red Cross strongly advocates the widespread deployment of defibrillators, particularly in the workplace and places of public occupancy.
The federal government estimates that about 61 million Americans suffer from cardiovascular disease, which causes about one million deaths each year. About 300,000 to 400,000 of these deaths are the direct result of sudden cardiac arrest. About 400 workers die on the job each year due to sudden cardiac arrest, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
It doesnt have to be that way. Whenever victims are treated immediately with defibrillation, their rate of survival dramatically increases. But time is critical since defibrillation must be applied within minutes of cardiac arrest.
The American Heart Association, the American College of Sports Medicine and other groups agree that the use of a defibrillator in the first minutes after cardiac arrest can boost the survival rate to as much as 90%.
The odds of survival drop to less than 2% after only 10 minutes. Since it takes the average emergency medical service team six to 12 minutes to arrive on the scene, an on-site AED literally can be a lifesaver.
Medical studies show that AEDs are extremely safe, effective and easy to use. Even workers who have not had time to go through the recommended training have saved the lives of colleagues or others.
More than 80,000 automated defibrillators already are deployed in airports, schools, golf courses and many public facilities across the country. Thats just a small percentage of the number needed.
To help bridge that gap, The Hartford has teamed with Medtronic Physio-Control, one of the countrys top manufacturers of AEDs, to help boost the number of defibrillators in the workplace and reduce the number of workplace deaths due to sudden cardiac arrest.
The “HartSense” program makes AEDs considerably more affordable to enable more workplaces, public buildings and other places where people gather to purchase the devices and keep them on site, ready to use.
The Hartford has already begun implementing its own AED program, deploying some 70 Medtronic LIFEPAK 500 AEDs in its headquarters and in field offices throughout the country, and training staff how to use the device.