Thursday, February 16, 2006

Defibrillators cut from budget

President Bush has requested billions more to prepare for potential disasters such as a biological attack or an influenza epidemic, but his proposed budget for next year would zero out popular health projects that supporters say target more mundane, but more certain, killers.

If enacted, the 2007 budget would eliminate federal programs that support inner-city Indian health clinics, defibrillators in rural areas, an educational campaign about Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain-injury centers, and a nationwide registry for Lou Gehrig's disease. It would cut close to $1 billion in health care grants to states and would kill the entire budget of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center.

The spokesman for the American Heart Association said he cannot fathom why the administration has recommended eliminating a $1.5 million program that provides defibrillators to rural communities and trains local personnel on how to use the machines to restart hearts that go into cardiac arrest.

"Coronary heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. This is actually something we can arm ourselves with."

Do defibrillators work?

The American Heart Association estimates that at least 100,000 of the 335,000 U.S. cardiac arrest deaths each year could be prevented if defibrillators were in common use, and that includes having them for first-responders such as police.

As an example:

Pete Candelaria and his family are pleased that at least some Bernalillo County sheriff's deputies carry heart defibrillators in their patrol cars.

The family plans to help lobby for more of the devices.

Bernalillo County, N.M., Deputy David Brown saved Candelaria's life with one of the computerized machines last week after Candelaria suffered a heart attack while riding in his truck on I-40.

Candelaria's wife was racing toward the nearest emergency room in Albuquerque when Brown caught up to the truck. He is one of 40 deputies trained to use defibrillators. When he didn't find a pulse on Candelaria, he hooked up the machine to the man's chest, followed the commands to perfection— including performing CPR— and shocked him twice with the device. Emergency medical crews arrived and Candelaria was taken to a hospital, where he remains in stable condition.

Oh, yes. They work.

See an Automatic External Defibrillator demonstration. Know this BEFORE you need to use one.

Also, consider taking an instructional course in the use of the device given by your local American Heart Association or Red Cross affiliates.

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