The goal of HeartSAFE Berks County is to improve the survivability of sudden cardiac arrest victims living and working in the county. We encourage citizens to get involved and be ready to use CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED) to save a life where they live, work, and play.
Chances of survival for anyone in our community increase to 30 to 70 percent when citizens act by using an AED on a victim within three minutes from the onset of a cardiac arrest. Action only results when AEDs are available for use, meaning that leaders in the community must take action to purchase AEDs and move to educate people about them. The Friends of Reading Hospital are here to support that.
What is a HeartSAFE Community?
A HeartSAFE Community means that all citizens of Berks County know the Chain of Survival for a victim of sudden cardiac arrest in the community. This includes:
- Calling 911 immediately
- Performing CPR
- Using a defibrillator
- Advanced emergency medical care
For more information about the Berks County HeartSAFE Community Program, please complete the form here to contact us.
Completing the AED Usage Form is an essential part of tracking AED use in Berks County. Please submit a Usage Report each time your AED has been used in a rescue.
- What is sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)?
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. When this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. SCA usually causes death if not treated in minutes.
- Is SCA the same as a heart attack?
No. A heart attack is caused by clogged or narrowed heart arteries that prevent the flow of blood. SCA is caused by an electrical problem in the heart that causes the heart to stop pumping blood. People who have heart attacks may become victims of SCA, but people of all ages – including kids and teenagers – can be victims of SCA.
- How common is SCA?
SCA is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. It strikes more than 200,000 Americans each year: nearly one death every two minutes.
- What causes SCA?
The most common cause of SCA is ventricular fibrillation – a dangerous and abnormal heart rhythm. This irregular beating causes the heart to stop, making it unable to oxygenate the vital organs of the body.
- Why is early defibrillation important?
Early defibrillation with an AED is the only treatment for SCA. According to the American Heart Association, each minute of delay in delivering a defibrillation shock to a cardiac arrest victim reduces the chance of survival by 10 percent. Also, published studies have proven that early defibrillation within the first few minutes of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, can save up to 74 percent of victims.
- What is an AED?
An Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) is a device that can be used by anyone to defibrillate someone whose heart has stopped.
- What liability would I incur if an AED is deployed? Will I be protected?
The laws surrounding AED usage vary from state to state. Pennsylvania has passed Good Samaritan laws with language about AEDs. Additionally, the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 2000, provides AED users and acquirers with protection from liability. Learn more about AED laws.
- Why do we need AEDs? Can't we just call 9-1-1?
Time is THE most important element in saving a sudden cardiac death victim. Survival is directly linked to the time interval between the sudden cardiac arrest and the first AED shock delivered to the victim. Because AEDs can be used by nearly anyone, widespread deployment in public places, including recreation fields and sporting events, gives victims the best chance of survival.
- How often do I need to check my AED?
AEDs should be checked monthly in order to be maintained properly.
- I used my AED in an emergency situation. What should I do next?
Please submit a Usage Report each time your AED has been used in an emergency. Completing the AED Usage Form is an essential part of tracking AED use in Berks County.
Following your submission, you are eligible for a free QUIK-PAK which includes replacement electrodes and battery. To guarantee timely replacement, please complete the AED Usage Form within 48 hours of AED use, and contact us for guidance on next steps.
- How can I donate to HeartSAFE Berks County?
You may donate here or mail a gift. If mailing, please make checks payable to:
The Friends of Reading Hospital
P.O. Box 16052
Reading, PA 19612
Purchase an AED
Reading Hospital and The Friends of Reading Hospital have a strategic alliance with Stryker that allows anyone in Berks County the opportunity to purchase a LIFEPAK CR 2 AED at a discounted rate of approximately 40 percent. This is the new model AED and is different from those distributed to police departments, first responders, and high schools throughout the County. The Friends share their discount on accessories as well.
Lifepak CR 2 AED
The LIFEPAK CR 2 AED can be purchased either as a mobile unit or a wall-mounted unit. The mobile unit includes an AED and spare pads. The wall-mounted unit includes an AED with a handle, spare pads, a wall-mounted cabinet, and signage.
It is important to maintain the AED, so check the battery monthly and change the battery/pads as needed.