Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Olson commits to passing Cardiac Arrest Survival Act

February 14, 2019
Op-Ed
South Belt-Ellington Leader

Olson commits to passing Cardiac Arrest Survival Act
Rep. Pete Olson

Each day we are reminded of the courage and resilience Texans showed in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. We saw countless acts of humanity from first responders, neighbors, volunteers and folks who came from across the country to help in our time of need.

While it’s been over a year since Harvey wreaked havoc on our communities, the #HoustonStrong spirit still remains alive and well. In that same spirit, many of our federal laws should be commonsense solutions that instill that same message – folks helping in a time of need.

According to the American Heart Association, over 320,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur each year - a leading cause of death in America. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating, which stops oxygen-rich blood from reaching the brain and other organs.

The average response time to a 911 call is over seven minutes, giving SCA victims roughly a 10% chance of survival. If Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are used immediately, the chance of survival jumps to 50 percent. However first responders with access to AEDs are not always around the corner to help. We also face a complex patchwork of state laws that hinder our ability to make these life-saving devices more readily available.

A critical solution exists - have AEDs more widely available for Good Samaritans to use in life or death situations. AEDs are specially designed to be user-friendly so the untrained neighbor, coach, or bystanders can easily use them. However state laws involving liability if a Good Samaritan using an AED on someone in cardiac arrest vary across the country. Some states have laws that prevent or deter Good Samaritans from taking action in an emergency situation for fear of prosecution. No one should have to worry about the potential consequences of helping someone in need. The patchwork of laws also makes wider use of AEDs difficult for national companies operating in many or all 50 states to understand compliance issues. This can discourage greater availability and use of these life-saving devices. This legal complexity discourages wider use of these life-saving devices.

The best solution is nationwide uniformity in laws surrounding use of AEDs. The easier we can make it for companies, schools, hotels and restaurants to carry AEDs, the more lives we can save. This has been a priority of mine for many years. That’s why I reintroduced the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act, which establishes a uniform baseline of liability protection for businesses that acquire AEDs and the Good Samaritans who use them to save a life. This bill has strong bipartisan support and hopefully we can get it passed and encourage a wider deployment of AEDs. No one should die because a Good Samaritan or business fears being sued.

During February, American Heart Month and every month, we can all work to make healthy choices to promote a healthy heart. I am committed to passing the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act in the House and Senate to increase the use of AEDs, protect Good Samaritans and save more lives.

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