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Registered AEDs Could Improve Survival Rate

February 4, 2013

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If you suffer cardiac arrest, the odds of surviving begin to tick away with each passing minute. But in Contra Costa County there's a new system that immediately connects public automated external defibrillators with victims of sudden cardiac arrest as soon as a 9-1-1 call is made.

Hello, I'm Dr. Joe Barger, Medical Director of Contra Costa Health Services' Emergency Medical Services Division. We're focusing on automated external defibrillators this American Heart Month because the most important thing in keeping a person alive after cardiac arrest is the time it takes to get that first shock.

An automated external defibrillator —also known as an AED —is a portable electronic device that automatically detects irregular heart rhythms and helps re-establish a normal rhythm. The lifesaving devices are becoming common because they increase survival rates and are easy to use.

There are hundreds of these devices throughout the county and they are a great benefit to the patrons and employees of the businesses that own them. Unfortunately, we too often find out the AED didn't come off the wall when it was needed most. People just don't remember or don't know it is there.

This doesn't have to be. State law requires all AED owners to register their device. When you register your AED, you get free maintenance reminders, recall notifications and much more to ensure your device will work as it should when you need it the most.

But more importantly, dispatchers know about registered devices and can alert 9-1-1 callers when there is an AED in the same building as a cardiac arrest.

Now, thanks to a program called AED Link, when owners register their device and mark it as public, the odds of reducing time to first shock is even greater. As soon as a 9-1-1 call for cardiac arrest comes in, AED Link will locate and notify people willing to respond with that public AED within a 1,200 foot radius.

In order for this program to be the most successful it can be we need people to register their device and mark it public. And, we need people willing to respond with those devices. We know there are roughly 800 registered AEDs in Contra Costa, yet very few of those are marked public. We also know there are at least 200 more AEDs that aren't even registered.

This simple act of registering your device and marking it public takes less than five minutes and can be the only difference between life and death. If you own an AED or know someone who has an AED, ask them to register it or, if they're not sure, to see if it's registered. You can do this online at

Thanks for listening.

About the Author

Dr. Joe Barger
Medical Director
Contra Costa Emergency Medical Services