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Sudden cardiac arrest (also known as SCA) is the leading cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 350,000 people each year.
Research shows that SCA kills 1,000 people a day or one person every 90 seconds (a number that that is greater than the deaths each year from breast cancer, lung cancer, stroke, or AIDS).
Sadly, an estimated 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before they reach a hospital or other source of emergency help. But, there is some positive news: Studies have shown that if early defibrillation is provided within the first minute of SCA, the odds are 90 percent that the victim’s life can be saved.
It was this statistic that prompted Ken Raskin, owner of Manny’s Deli in Chicago, to consider purchasing a defibrillator for the restaurant.
“I had been thinking about it for a while and mentioned it to my son, Dan, who works at Manny’s with me,” Raskin says. “Thankfully, in over 60 years, we’ve never had a life or death situation at Manny’s.
“But we wanted to be fully prepared should one of our customers or one of our employees experience sudden cardiac arrest,” he continues. “Having a defibrillator on the premises will ensure that we are.”
Earlier this month, Raskin purchased a defibrillator (commonly referred to as an AED, or automated external defibrillator) and underwent the American Heart Association Heartsaver AED training and certification program, along with eight members of his staff.
In addition to learning how to properly use the defibrillator, as well as when it should and shouldn’t be used, all eight staff members were also trained in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, so they can assist someone who may be choking.
“When it comes to treating sudden cardiac arrest, being able to respond quickly makes an enormous difference in saving a life,” says David Lipman, president of the Chicago-based SOS Technologies, which provides emergency lifesaving equipment and training programs.
“Time is critical,” he adds. “The chances of survival drop 7–10 percent with every minute that defibrillation is delayed.”
Today’s AEDs are extremely simple to use, with very clear, easy-to-follow, step-by-step voice and text instructions. The AED analyzes the heart rhythm of the victim, and if necessary, a computerized command will instruct the user to press a button to deliver an appropriate shock to restore a normal heartbeat.
“The devices are failsafe and will not cause injury to the user, nor will they deliver a shock to the heart if none is needed,” says Lipman, whose company provided the defibrillator to Raskin for Manny’s Deli.
In Illinois, The Colleen O’Sullivan Law (2005) requires that all indoor physical fitness facilities operated by any local governments have at least one AED on the premises. This includes schools, colleges, universities, and parks that regularly serve 100 people or more.
The Rashidi A. Wheeler Initiative (2007) states that all outdoor football stadiums, soccer fields, baseball fields, golf courses, and other outdoor fitness and sports facilities have an AED on hand, along with the presence of defibrillator-trained staff during all physical fitness activities.
Illinois hospitals, care centers, ambulances, police stations, fire departments, and dental offices that administer anesthesia and sedation are also required by law to keep an AED on hand.
But, there are no Illinois laws requiring restaurants or other hospitality establishments (i.e. hotels, nightclubs, casinos) to do the same.
“I find this somewhat surprising,” says Raskin, who makes sure that at least one defibrillator-trained staff member is working each and every shift at Manny’s.
“During any given day, we could have 500 or more customers walk through our doors,” he adds. “While we hope that we never have to use it, I’m very glad that we have a defibrillator at the restaurant and that we are trained to save someone’s life. I hope other restaurant owners follow our lead.”