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Barriers to CPR and AED Use Removed

By Staff | Jul 24, 2012

HARRISBURG On Thursday, July 5, Senate Bill 351 which extends protection to bystanders who aid someone in an emergency using CPR and AEDs, and to businesses who place an AED on their premises was signed by Governor Tom Corbett. The legislation was spearheaded by Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne).

“Nearly 300,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually nationwide, and many victims appear healthy with no known heart disease or other risk factors,” said Jen Ebersole, Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association. “Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.”

Sadly, less than eight percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive. This remarkable statistic highlights the need for good Samaritans to respond in an emergency when trained professionals are not immediately available.

“Greater use of CPR and AEDs will save lives, bottom line,” Ebersole said. “Pennsylvania citizens, businesses and non-medical emergency response providers shouldn’t have to think twice about personal liability when they are trying to do the right thing in an emergency, especially when a stranger’s hands and the presence of and AED often mean the difference between life and death.”

In Pennsylvania, an outdated Good Samaritan law failed to protect from personal liability bystanders and non-medical emergency response providers who perform CPR or aid someone in an emergency, and businesses who wish to place automatic external defibrillators (AED) on their premises. Senate Bill 351 fixes such unintended loopholes in the law, and will bring Pennsylvania among the 36 other states who have similar protections for good Samaritans.

“We commend Senator Baker for her leadership and steadfast support in seeing this bill through the legislative process,” said Ebersole. “We’ve been so fortunate to have such strong support from Senator Baker, in addition to other organizations such as the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council, American Red Cross, Ambulance Association of Pennsylvania, American College of Cardiology, and many others who have assisted in the effort to get this bill to the finish line.”