Shock to the Heart: AEDs in the Workplace
Each year in the United States, there are approximately 220,000 victims of sudden cardiac arrest; 10,000 of these incidents occur in the workplace. Studies have shown using a defibrillator on an individual in cardiac arrest increases their survival rate by 60 percent. For every minute that passes without CPR or defibrillation, the chances of a cardiac arrest victim’s survival decrease by up to 10 percent.
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating or when ventricular fibrillation occurs and the heart starts beating at a very fast rate. Cardiac arrest can be caused by heart attacks, electrocution or asphyxiation. Automated external defibrillators (AED) can check a person’s heart rhythm and determine if an electric shock is needed to try and restore a normal rhythm.
Often times, victims of cardiac arrest have no history of heart disease making the presence of an AED in the workplace the difference between life and death. Most AEDs are now light weight, portable and easy to use. AED’s can cost between $3,000 and $4,500 plus training and maintenance costs. Of the 400 workplace cardiac arrest-related deaths reported to OSHA annually, experts estimate 40 percent, or 160 lives per year, could be saved using an AED.