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County Executive Leopold Announces Initiative to Save Lives

Annapolis (July 16, 2008) - Anne Arundel County firefighters and police officers will begin working with community businesses this week in a public awareness campaign to place Automated External Defibrillators (AED) in public locations in Anne Arundel County. Owners of businesses, community centers, and gathering places will be encouraged to purchase an AED and provide training to their personnel in its use.

Every day in the county a person’s heart suddenly stops beating a condition known as Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Without early CPR and an Automated External Defibrillator, the chance of survival is approximately 5%. However, studies have shown that immediate CPR and the application of an AED within 3 minutes will dramatically increase the chance of survival. In one study, the survival rate rose to nearly 75%.

Tragically, such an incident claimed the life of an Anne Arundel County Councilman. Cliff R. Roop collapsed on January 3, 2000 in Sudden Cardiac Arrest and did not survive. From that incident a dedicated group of individuals led by Brenda Dijardins formed HeartSmart, the Cliff R. Roop Foundation whose primary mission has been to place AEDs in public places. Since their inception, nearly 50 AEDs have been placed and incredibly three lives have been saved. Now, County Executive John R. Leopold is bringing the full weight of the fire and police departments to bear in helping get this incredibly important public safety message to business and community leaders.

"Anne Arundel County strives to provide the fastest service possible but we cannot save lives alone," County Executive Leopold said in announcing the partnership with the HeartSmart Foundation. "We are asking for your help in achieving our goal of making Anne Arundel County a Heart Safe Community by increasing the chance for you to survive a sudden cardiac arrest with an AED. Today is that day. Now, the power to save a life is in your hands."

An AED is designed to deliver a shock to the heart of a person who has stopped breathing and does not have a pulse. Time is critical: for every minute that person’s heart is not beating the chance of survival drops by more than 10%. Within 5 minutes, the chance of survival is less than 50%. Even in ideal circumstances, the national average response time for public safety professionals is 6 to 10 minutes.

Partnering with Anne Arundel County Public Safety officials, and the HeartSmart Foundation, is the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems. Dr. Richard Alcorta, State EMS Medical Director, also attended the event and announced the creation of a Public Service Announcement that will be used to augment the awareness campaign.

"Anne Arundel County is one of the finest EMS systems in the State and provides excellent care to cardiac arrest victims. This will improve an already exemplary system. The citizens of the County are fortunate to have such dedicated public safety professionals," Dr. Alcorta commented during the press conference.

A local cardiac arrest survivor was present at the conference to speak about the value of AEDs and members of the media learned how to use an AED and understand its power in saving lives.

Three key points reinforce the announcement:

  • The use of an AED can save lives in Sudden Cardiac Arrest
  • AEDs are safe to use and should be placed in public places
  • Business leaders will be contacted by members of the police and fire departments to increase their awareness about their ability to save the life of an employee or customer

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