Defibrillators are needed in schools, health clubs

As a certified athletic trainer at East Brunswick High School, licensed by the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners, I have worked for the past two years to obtain three automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for the high school building.

I am a concerned health care provider who has thousands of people, both young and old, attend athletic events on school grounds throughout the year. There are also hundreds of teachers and students in my building every day.

As chairman of the East Brunswick Township mayor’s committee to advance the use of AEDs, I am trying to persuade individuals and businesses in the township to also provide AEDs in their workplaces.

Approximately 350,000 adults and 7,000 young people suffer sudden cardiac arrests each year in this country. Everywhere there are large gatherings of people, there should be public phones, fire extinguishers and AEDs.

As a state, we are sorely lacking in public access defibrillation programs. There is currently a bill (S1106) in the New Jersey Senate Health Committee requiring health clubs to have an AED and trained staff on the premises whenever they open their doors to the public.

Two of the nation’s largest exercise facility giants are in East Brunswick. I belong to one of them. As I work out, I look at people around me and think "possible victim — possible victim, most definitely," and I review my cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training in my head.

You can’t put a price on someone’s life, and we shouldn’t allow lawyers and health club executives to make this decision. Lawsuits accounting for millions of dollars have already been settled nationwide against health clubs for failing to provide emergency care following tragic incidences. It is inexcusable for any profit-making company to open its doors, provide the equipment for people to exercise (and tax their unexamined cardiac systems) without providing lifesaving steps to react in the event of tragic sudden cardiac arrests.

The national average for emergency medical service (EMS) arrival is 8-12 minutes. Unfortunately, every minute past the first four minutes lowers the victim’s chance of surviving by 10 percent. Do the math. An 8-minute arrival time means this person has already lost 40 percent of the chance to go home after his or her workout at the gym.

I urge everyone to contact their local state senator’s office and tell him or her that S1106 should be pushed through committee, onto the floor for a vote and onto Gov. James McGreevey’s desk for his signature.

Phil Hossler

East Brunswick