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Exclusive Sidebar: Five Myths About Sudden Cardiac Arrest, AEDs and CPR

Access to AEDs has saved 15,000 to 20,000 lives over the past year. Many of the saves have occurred on school and university campuses. However, only about 8 percent of the total number of Americans who suffer sudden cardiac arrest survive, according to a study last summer in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. To continue to make progress, schools must deconstruct the following myths:

*Myth 1: Sudden cardiac arrest is the same as a heart attack. They are different conditions and must be treated differently. Sudden cardiac arrest is an "electrical disorder," a heart arrhythmia. A heart attack is a "plumbing" disorder, a blocked artery.

*Myth 2: You can save a sudden cardiac arrest victim with CPR alone. Only an AED can revive a sudden cardiac arrest victim, because only an AED can correct an abnormal heart rhythm.

*Myth 3: An AED isn’t needed on campus—just call EMS. An AED victim must be revived within five minutes to have the best chance of survival. According to USA Today, EMS responders usually take from six to 12 minutes to treat a sudden cardiac arrest victim. Most untreated sudden cardiac arrest victims die within 10 minutes.

*Myth 4: AEDs are complicated instruments that are difficult to operate. A study at the University of Washington showed that the average sixth-grader can operate an AED successfully. Non-medical volunteers represent the largest group of people using AEDs, according to a study by the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium.

*Myth 5: Deploying an AED on campus increases legal liability. The opposite is true; AEDs are becoming so commonplace that courts are ruling that they are now considered a "standard of care." In addition, Good Samaritan laws passed in many states protect rescuers and schools providing AEDs from legal liability if an AED fails to resuscitate a victim. A school or university choosing not to have AEDs actually increases its legal risk should an untreated episode of sudden cardiac arrest occur.

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