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GW Cheney Institute Donates Life-Saving Automated External Defibrillators to All D.C. Public Library Branches

Institute’s ReStart DC Program Has Now Donated 100+ AEDs Across the Greater DC Community to Improve Response to Cardiac Arrest

WASHINGTON - DC Public Library users and employees are the recipients of improved emergency services with a donation of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at all 25 locations, thanks to a gift from the George Washington University Cheney Cardiovascular Institute’s “ReStart DC” program. A public event to commemorate the donation will be held at the Chevy Chase location of the DC Public Library on Thursday, May 12 at 11:30 a.m., which will also mark the 100th community donation of the ReStart AED program.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) – an electrical disruption in the heart’s normal pattern – is the leading cause of death in the U.S., striking more than 300,000 Americans each year. Immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the timely shock of an AED to restore the heart’s natural rhythm are necessary to revive a victim of SCA. AEDs, which are easy to use, safe to operate, and are proven life-saving equipment, are now commonplace in many public settings where people gather, including airports, shopping malls, schools and office buildings and are effective tools to improve survival rates from SCA. 

“Within the district, survival rates from SCA have historically averaged around 5-6 percent. In an effort to place AEDs in high-traffic areas across the city, we hope that these rates will increase –however compared to cities like Seattle, with a survival rate of nearly 16 percent-- it is evident that a lot more work needs to be done in this area and more AEDs need to be deployed,” said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, director of cardiac catheterization at George Washington University Hospital and professor of medicine at The George Washington University. “We are pleased to be working with the DC Public Libraries because this partnership helps to fill a critical need.”

In 2009, the Cheney Institute launched the Restart DC program, with the goal of increasing survival rates from SCA in the District of Columbia by donating AEDs and CPR training to non-profit organizations, community centers, houses of worship and related organizations. With the 25 DC public library branches now participating, the ReStart program has over 100 sites and continues to grow. The library branch donation was made possible with generous support from volunteers of the Friends of the DC Library and Mended Hearts, which raised a portion of the funding for the AED program, as well as support from Philips Healthcare.  In addition to the AED donation, nearly 100 DC Library staff received CPR and AED training, and the total value of the gift or AEDs and training to the library system exceeds $60,000.

“As great as our cardiac program is – and we pride ourselves on being the premier cardiac emergency facility in the city – cardiac patients often reach us too late. By deploying AEDs and training people in CPR, we are enlisting the entire community to help in our efforts to improve survival rates by speeding the response to cardiac emergencies,” said Dr. Reiner.