Back From the Dead: AED Laws

CEDAR RAPIDS - Each year more than 250,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest. To put that into perspective, it's the equivalent of 625 jumbo jets filled to capacity, nearly 700-deaths per day, 30 every hour.

Quick use of CPR and defibrillation are saving more people. But automated external defibrillators, or AED's, can't be found in many places, especially in rural areas of Iowa. Here is a look at the laws regarding AED's and lives the devices have saved.

Fred Franck of Cedar Rapids suddenly collapsed while mowing the grass at work. Thankfully, within minutes, a passerby started CPR and Officer Justin Kaczinksi arrived with an automated external defibrillator and shocked Fred back to life.

"Every officer that goes out in a squad car is issued one through the department. They're to carry them in the squad cars at all times when they're out on patrol," said Officer Justin Kaczinski.

Most EMS responders have AEDs, but you don't have to be a professional to use one. Anyone with minimal training can save a life with an AED.

Mary Tappe was also at work when she died. But her company had an AED on site and a co-worker used it.

"Marilyn started the CPR and Sarah brought the AED, delivered two shocks and brought me back in about 3-1/2 minutes," said Tappe.
Timing is crucial. Doctors say for every minute that passes without defibrillation, a victim's chance of survival drops ten percent in just ten minutes, you're done.

"If you live in an area of Iowa where it takes 15 minutes for a first responder group to get to you, or your emergency personnel don't have an AED with them, you have little or no hope," said Tappe.

Any lay person who uses an AED is protected from liability through Iowa's Good Samaritan Law. There's also federal protection under the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act. But, there's no law in Iowa that mandates having one anywhere.

"In Iowa there's no law, no regulations. It used to be regulated. You had to report where they had to be but you don't have to do that anymore," said Kyle Hill, Code Red Inc.

Many states require placement of AEDs in schools, health clubs and places of public assembly. And while several Iowa schools and community groups do have them, many others don't.
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