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Public Health - Seattle & King County

A Guide to the Seattle-King County Community Responder CPR-AED Program

CPR-AED overview
The Chain of Survival
Community Responder CPR-AED Program
AEDs at the worksite
CPR-AED program packet and AED registration

CPR-AED overview

Learning to use an AED is easier than learning CPR

CPR demonstrationCardiovascular disease is the single greatest cause of death in the United States. Every year more than 480,000 adult Americans die of a heart attack or its complication. About half of these deaths (250,000) result from sudden cardiac arrest, a complication of heart attack. Ventricular fibrillation (a chaotic electrical heart rhythm that does not circulate blood) is the most common cause of cardiac arrest and can only be corrected by an electrical defibrillation shock. The success of defibrillation diminishes rapidly with each passing minute, decreasing the chance of successful return of normal heart rhythm by 10% for each passing minute.

Since the early 1960s, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) performed by lay rescuers has been responsible for a significant improvement in the survival of cardiac arrest victims. Establishing an Enhanced 9-1-1 system has reduced the response time for EMS. Developments in AEDs now makes it possible for this potentially life saving treatment to be administered quickly by lay rescuers.

  • 60% of sudden cardiac arrest deaths occur outside the hospital.
  • 85% of these sudden cardiac arrests have a chaotic heart beat called Ventricular Fibrillation (VF); untreated the victim will die.
  • Defibrillation is the only thing that stops VF. Recently, AEDs have been placed on airlines resulting in life saving successes.
  • A new law allows lay-persons access to an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

"Immediate cardiac defibrillation by someone trained in the use of an AED can have a pronounced impact in survival rates."

~ Leonard Cobb, M.D., Seattle Fire Department Medic One

The AED control panel
The AED control panel.
The 1998 Washington State AED law grants immunity from civil liability for a person or entity who acquires a defibrillator. The Public Health - Seattle & King County, EMS Division in partnership with the Seattle Fire Department and fire departments in King County has developed the Seattle-King County Community Responder CPR-AED Program.

The goal of the Seattle-King County Community Responder CPR-AED Program is to improve survival from sudden cardiac death in Seattle-King County by reducing the time to defibrillation by having community responders use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) before EMS arrives.


The Chain of Survival

Calling 9-1-1Immediately call 9-1-1 upon finding an unresponsive adult; follow the dispatcher's instructions.

The American Heart Association estimates that 1,000 people die every day from sudden cardiac arrest, at home or work. Ventricular defibrillation (an electrical shock), the only effective treatment for ventricular fibrillation (chaotic heart beat), does not reach victims in time. Download the AHA PAD Physician Oversight Guide.

Millions of people have learned Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), yet surviving a sudden cardiac arrest relies on a Chain of Survival:

The Chain of Survival

Studies have shown a 70-80% chance of survival if defibrillation can be performed immediately on a victim in ventricular fibrillation. The American Heart Association supports public access defibrillation programs, much like the programs of placing AEDs on airlines.

Community Responder CPR-AED Program

Applying AED to a patient
Applying AED to a patient.
Take the Automated External Defibrillator to the victim, connect electrode pads to the victim's bare chest.

In 1998, the Washington State Legislature enacted a specific law (RCW 70.54.310) to facilitate implementation compliance of a citizen defibrillation program. Public Health - Seattle & King County, EMS Division in partnership with Seattle King County fire departments has established a Community Responder CPR-AED Program to assist individuals and businesses in developing an AED program at their worksite.

The Community Responder CPR/AED Program has become a very important component in our community. One of the biggest reasons for this is YOU, the community participants. The communication between you and the program is a very necessary part of our continuing success. We would like to encourage anyone who has an AED to make sure it is registered with EMS. This can start with your local Fire Department but the information needs to reach the EMS Department in order for several very important things to happen. EMS keeps a registry of all AED’s in Seattle/King County and this enables us to 1) notify the dispatch in your area that an AED is present at your location. This enables the dispatcher to notify anyone responding to your location that an AED is on site and 2) to put the information out to the responding fire department that an AED is at the location. The fire department is very helpful in both the training that is to be done on the AED when it is purchased and in knowing the best place to keep the AED at the site. We do not recommend that any AED be placed without the proper training and registration. Going through an AED training will allow the user to feel much more confident about using the device when the need arises.

AEDs at the worksite

Applying AED to a patient
Instructor warns others to stay back as AED is activated.
Turn AED on - Press "Analyze," follow the AED's instructions.

Persons interested in developing a worksite Community Responder CPR-AED Program can follow these steps:

  1. Request an implementation packet.
  2. Complete the Documentation for Community Responder Site (this information gives step by step instructions).
  3. Train users in accordance with Washington State Department of Health approved AED training.
  4. Solicit medical guidance by a licensed physician.
  5. Implement the Community Responder CPR-AED Program

The AED legislation allows a person or entity, owner and physician who acquires an AED limited immunity from civil liability, especially for any individual who uses an AED as a Good Samaritan (RCW 4.24.300)

CPR-AED program packet and AED registration

Program documentation and AED resources for any business or private residence in the King County or Seattle area.