Letter: Four Elected State Representatives Feel the cost of saving a life is not worth the price of an AED device

Tragically, my husband and father of three suffered a cardiac event in 2012 and died while at a Ridgefield health club. His chances of survival would have been drastically improved while awaiting help from EMS had an AED device and trained staff been on site.

Four years later, another Ridgefield father suffered a near-fatal cardiac event at the same gym. Fortunately, this father survived, largely because of a trained staff person who immediately came to his aid. 

Sen. Will Haskell has informed me that CT proposed bill SB-110 has become part of a larger public health bill, SB-1083, and is now headed to the Senate.

Simply put, passing this bill would require health clubs and athletic facilities to maintain an AED and a trained staff person on site. It is undisputed that the likelihood of sudden cardiac arrest increases in health clubs that promote workout intensity where patrons are intentionally raising their heart rates. It is also undisputed that there is a decrease in fatality rate with the immediate use of an AED and CPR.*

As proposed, the bill passed the Public Health Committee with bipartisan support – although it was not unanimous.

It is literally heartbreaking to think that four of our elected State Representatives, tasked with helping to form state laws that benefit their constituents, feel the cost of saving a life is not worth the price of an AED device in health clubs.

The four reps voting against were:

  • State Rep. Whit Betts
  • State Rep. Christie Carpino
  • State Rep. Anne Dauphinais
  • State Rep. Robin Green 

Other states already have AED laws including our Massachusetts neighbors. My husband and father of three was only 50 and died in a health club while awaiting help from EMS. Sadly, my story is not unique. It’s hard to understand why no progress has been made in CT to help minimize this risk and why any of our elected officials would turn their backs on this requirement for health clubs, when many other CT businesses/buildings are required to do the same.

*A 2018 study published in the journal Circulation found that the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest more than doubles if a bystander uses an AED to deliver a shock instead of waiting for emergency responders to arrive. A person is more likely to survive with better outcomes and minimal disability. The chance of survival from cardiac arrest decreases by seven to 10 percent for every minute that passes without an AED. Emergency medical services take between four and 10 minutes, on average, to reach someone in cardiac arrest, which is why it is critical to require health clubs/gyms to require an AED device and trained staff on site.

" … AEDs are literally easy enough for a child to use," says Gust H. Bardy, M.D., of the University of Washington Medical School, Seattle ..."The development of user-friendly defibrillators is a major advance in our efforts to improve the chances of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest. The broader use of these devices by the public could save as many as 50,000 lives each year.”

- Suzanne Brennan - Ridgefield, Connecticut

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