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FOR RELEASE: August 9, 2004
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Lifesaving Program Gives Away More Than 200 Defibrillators Today

A federal grant program to fund the placement of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) throughout rural Oklahoma could help save hundreds of lives, Gov. Brad Henry said today.

The AED program distributed over 120 defibrillators in Oklahoma last year, and is credited for saving the lives of several Oklahomans who suffered from a sudden cardiac arrest. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) along with the American Heart Association and the Oklahoma Association of Regional Councils will begin distributing an additional 207 defibrillators today. The program is funded through a $240,000 grant from the Health Resources Services Administration.

“By working together, government and community organizations are making Oklahoma a safer and healthier place to live. We hope to continue this program, helping more and more communities meet the optimal response time for cardiac arrest as recommended by the American Heart Association,” Gov. Henry said.

An AED can be a lifesaver for someone suffering a sudden cardiac arrest. The AED will automatically analyze heart rhythms and deliver an electric current to the heart of a cardiac arrest victim, restarting the heart. The key to survival is prompt defibrillation within a five-minute response time or less.

“Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in North America. Only 1 of 20 victims of sudden cardiac arrest survives, yet many of these victims could be saved with early CPR and early defibrillation,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher.

Even though Oklahoma ranks third in the nation for cardiovascular disease deaths, until recently very few AEDs were available in most Oklahoma communities. Emergency resources are particularly scarce in rural areas of the state.

Most AEDs are designed for use by non-medical personnel, such as police, firefighters, sheriffs, and troopers with the Highway Patrol. Defibrillators are particularly effective if placed in 24-hour radio-dispatched mobile units that may respond to a medical emergency.

“We’ve had such a good response from the first year that we were pleased to get funding another year to expand the program in Oklahoma. The better the response time with a defibrillator, the better chance the victim of sudden cardiac arrest has to survive,” said OSDH Director of the Emergency Medical Services Division Shawn Rogers.

The Oklahoma State Health Department was the lead agency in a coalition of stakeholders working to implement AEDs throughout the state. Member agencies include the Oklahoma Association of Regional Councils, Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police, Oklahoma State Firefighters Association, Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association, the American Heart Association and the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.

For more information about the program, contact the OSDH Emergency Medical Services Division at 405/271-4027.


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