In the first critical moments of cardiac arrest, an automatic external defibrillator (AED) can restart someone's heart before emergency responders arrive. For every minute before being shocked by a defibrillator, a person's chance of surviving decreases by 10 percent. The great thing about AEDs is that they are easy for everyone to use. Studies have proven that even children can use them to save a life.
Maryland's AED program has been in place for over a decade. You can find them at schools, community centers, and businesses all over the state. But several Johns Hopkins doctors, including the Chief of Medicine, are concerned because in many places where AEDs should be accessible, they have been found locked away from the public.
Businesses say that they are afraid of liability issues, training requirements, and burdensome recordkeeping requirements in Maryland law. Afraid of a possible lawsuit, many facilities have locked up their AEDs so that nobody but "trained" employees can use them. The physicians say that means a bad public policy is limiting the number of lives that could be saved.
AEDs should be like fire extinguishers--easy to access when you need them. Currently, I am leading the effort to make AEDs easier for the public to access them. My bill, Senate Bill 461, would remove liability for facilities in the AED program and remove the link between training requirements and exposure to lawsuits.
When lives are literally on the line, we need AEDs to be accessible. I am working to make sure that, in a time of crisis, you can get the help you need, when you need it.