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Portable Defibrillators Sweep the City

Each year, about 350,000 Americans go into cardiac arrest, but only 5% survive because help comes too late. In New York City, experts say the survival rate is less than 2% because of traffic and the intricate layout of buildings.

Automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, can shock the heart back into a normal rhythm when attached to the chest, improving survival rates by 60% if applied within 4-6 minutes of cardiac arrest.

Monday, city officials announced the deployment of 70 defibrillators at city pools, parks, and ferryboats. The long-term goal is to have 1,500 defibrillators deployed citywide. At about $3,000 each, it's a sizable investment by the city.

"It's worth everyone learning how to do this," Mayor Rudy Giuliani says. "This is very simple to do."

It is easy because the device does most of the work for you, analyzing heart rhythms and shocking only if necessary.

Some New York City doormen and security personnel are learning lifesaving techniques, including CPR and how to operate the AEDs, which are now being placed in residential and commercial buildings such as Symphony House, owned and managed by Jack Resnick and Son.

"Airlines now have these machines," says the company’s managing director, Dennis Brady. "Different public establishments now have these machines; so I think we're the next natural progression."

Real estate owner-developer Randy Kohana’s own experience helped convince the Resnick Group that portable defibrillators made good sense, CBS 2’s Paul Moniz reports.

Four years ago, while skiing in Aspen, Colorado, Kohana, then 38, suffered a heart attack and went into cardiac arrest.

What saved him was a hospital defibrillator, which shocked his quivering heart back to normal, stabilizing him enough to undergo surgery to open a blocked artery. His prognosis is excellent.

After studying the benefit of portable defibrillators, Kohana launched a brochure and letter-writing campaign to convince associates in real estate that portable AEDs are a good idea. Kohana even keeps one right under his office desk.

One big concern individuals who operate the AED have is liability: Can they be sued if the device is not administered properly?

Under the state's good samaritan law, as long you receive proper training with a registered device, you cannot be held liable.
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