Emergency law mandates defibrillators, CPR training

WASHINGTON — Ward 5 Councilman Kenyan McDuffie thinks defibrillators are an important tool for safety in the District.

Automated external defibrillators “help save lives,” McDuffie said, “and we should make sure they are available wherever people congregate in D.C.”

McDuffie is the force behind a newly passed emergency law setting up CPR training and emergency medical application training for employees in D.C. public and charter schools, in District Parks and Recreation Facilities and in all other District government buildings.

The legislation also requires that employees and students learn CPR and how to use an AED — and it requires that each school have at least one defibrillator on site.

“A victim’s chance of survival can double or triple if CPR is performed, ” McDuffie said. “Every student trained in CPR is a potential lifesaver.”

WTOP asked McDuffie about a recent incident at the Marriott Wardman Park, where a contractor doing work there on Aug. 6 suffered a heart attack. Two journalists at the scene of a convention gala rushed to perform CPR, but there was no AED on site. D.C. Fire and EMS says emergency crews arrived in about five minutes.

The hotel is not required to have a defibrillator under current D.C. code, and said in a statement that it requires “all Marriott branded hotels worldwide to implement an [AED] program where required by applicable law.” But the council member says perhaps that code should be changed.

“What it boils down to is about saving lives,” McDuffie said. “I think we need to explore access to AEDs where many residents congregate such as hotels … and in public places.”

He notes that other jurisdictions are moving to expand access to defibrillators and training people how to use them, and he thinks D.C. should be moving in that direction as well — with a caveat.

“It’s important to me to make sure stakeholders have a seat at the table, so whatever we can do can be implemented and can lead to lives being saved and won’t just be an onerous bill that won’t be able to be implemented,” McDuffie said.

Some of those stakeholders include hotel associations, hospitals and the District’s Department of Health.

“We want to help and save lives in the District of Columbia,” McDuffie said. “That’s the goal.”


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