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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 20, 2000
                         SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST

In his radio address today, President Clinton will announce new measures that will help save the lives of Americans who may suffer sudden cardiac arrest in federal buildings and airplanes. Approximately 250,000 persons die each year from sudden cardiac arrest - more than 600 per day. Experts estimate that more than 20,000 lives could be saved annually by providing greater access to automated external defibrillators (AEDs). AEDs, devices that are about the size of a laptop computer, automatically analyze heart rhythms and deliver a shock to restart a heart, potentially saving lives. In order to increase the likelihood of survival to persons suffering sudden cardiac arrest, the President will direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the General Services Administration (GSA) to develop guidelines for the placement of AEDs in federal buildings. In order to support this effort, AED manufacturers, along with the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross, will donate AEDs and training. The President also will announce a proposed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rule that will require U.S. airlines to carry AEDs on all domestic and international flights. Finally, the President will support pending legislation that will provide Good Samaritan protection to certain persons using or acquiring AEDs.

DEVELOPING GUIDELINES TO PLACE DEFIBRILLATORS IN FEDERAL BUILDINGS. The President will announce that he is directing HHS and GSA to report back to him within 120 days with guidelines on a program for AED placement in federal buildings, which includes medical oversight of the placement, training of federal employees, and coordination of the plan with the local EMS system. In creating these guidelines, the President directed HHS and GSA to cooperate and consult with interested parties, including other federal agencies -- particularly, the Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Justice -- and state and local agencies focusing on research and public health, consumers, health organizations, and academia. In order to kickoff the placement of AEDs in federal buildings, three manufacturers of AEDs -- Agilent Technologies, Medtronic, and Survivalink -- will donate AEDs. In addition, the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross will donate training to support this effort.

INSTALLING DEFIBRILLATORS IN AIRPLANES. Today President Clinton will announce a proposed FAA rule that will require U.S. airlines to carry AEDs on all domestic and international flights. This proposal also will require initial and recurring training for flight attendants on AED usage and on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Eight major and six regional airlines either currently carry or have made a commitment to carry AEDs. This proposal will affect the approximately 2,600 remaining airplanes that weigh more than 7,500 pounds and have at least one flight attendant. Airlines will have a three-year compliance period to purchase the equipment and develop training programs.

SUPPORTING DEFIBRILLATORS LEGISLATION. Finally, the President will announce his support for the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act, which will provide Good Samaritan protection for certain persons who use or acquire AEDs. The President will announce that he looks forward to working with Congress to complete this vital piece of legislation.