Proceedings, Debates of the U.S. Congress
AMENDING THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ACT
(Senate - November 19, 1999)
Text available as:
Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.
[Pages S15216-S15218] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] AMENDING THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ACT Ms. COLLINS. MR. President, I ask unanimous consent that the HELP Committee be discharged from further consideration of S. 1488, and that the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. The clerk will report the bill by title. The legislative clerk read as follows: A bill (S. 1488) to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for recommendations of the Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding the placement of automatic external defibrillators in Federal Buildings in order to improve survival rates of individuals who experience cardiac arrest in such Buildings, and to establish protections from civil liability arising from the emergency use of the devices. There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the bill. amendment no. 2798 Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, Senator Gorton has a substitute amendment at the best, and I ask for its consideration. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the amendment. The legislative clerk read as follows: The Senator from Maine [Ms. Collins] for Mr. Gorton, proposes an amendment numbered 2798. (The text of the amendment is printed in today's Record under ``Amendments Submitted.'') Mr. GORTON. I am pleased that the Senate will pass the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act before the end of this session. Each year 250,000 Americans suffer from sudden cardiac arrest. It can claim the life of a promising young athlete, a friend of family member regardless of age or health. Sudden Cardiac Arrest occurs when the heart's electrical impulses become chaotic causing the heart to stop pumping blood. Tragically, 95% of Americans who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest will die. This bill helps to fight this killer by asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop public access to defibrillation programs for federal buildings. Public access to defibrillation programs include improving access to automated external defibrillators (AEDs), training those likely to use the devices, ensuring proper medical oversight of the program and maintaining the devices according to manufacturer's guidelines. An AED is a small, laptop-sized device that is easy to use and can alalyze the heart rhythms of cardiac arrest victims to determine if a shock is warranted and, if necessary, deliver a life-saving shock to the heart. The devices are so important because for every minute that passes before a cardiac arrest victim's heart is returned to normal rhythm, his or her chance of survival falls by as much as 10 percent. This bill also provides important gap-filling Good Samaritan immunity for the few states that have yet to pass AED access laws. It will help ensure that people who respond to an emergency and use an AED to help cardiac arrest victims needn't fear frivolous lawsuits. It also provides reassurance to nonmedical facilities such as adult day care centers, the first aid station in a shopping mall, casinos, fitness clubs, sports stadiums, a health clinic in a business, an airport, ambulance, firetruck or other locations where AEDs may be beneficial that they can make these lifesaving devices available. I want to thank Senators Jeffords and Frist for their help in moving this bill forward. I am also grateful to the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross and the thirty-three other health organizations that have worked so hard to ensure passage of this bill. This is a good bill, it will help save lives and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to ensure that it is signed into law. Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, Senator Gorton and I have worked closely [[Page S15217]] with Chairman Jeffords and Chairman Frist to prepare this substitute amendment to S. 1488, the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act. I particularly commend my colleague from Washington, Senator Gorton, for his leadership on this issue. Promoting the use of defibrillators is good public policy. The substitute amendment is supported by the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross and the American Red Cross. I am hopeful that the recommendations to be developed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services will encourage decision makers at the federal, state and local levels to make the most effective use of automated external defibrillators. I believe that this legislation will save lives. The ``Good Samaritan'' provisions contained in the legislation are targeted, and there is no need for additional categories. I urge the Senate to approve it now, and the House to pass it in the next session. It is a solid proposal, and it deserves prompt enactment. Mr. GORDON. I couldn't agree more with my colleague from Massachusetts. We have worked together to find common ground on an issue that we all believe is important. The product of these discussions is a bill that I would like to see enacted into law as soon as possible. I hope we can work together with our colleagues in the House to pass this measure and send it to the President next year. Mr. JEFFORDS. Mr. President, exactly one year ago today, Mike Tighe of Barnard, Vermont boarded a commercial aircraft for a flight to Los Angeles, California. As the plane cruised at about 35,000 feet, Mr. Tighe suffered a deadly heart attack. To make a long story short, Mike is alive and well today, because the aircraft in which he was a passenger had, only two days before that fateful flight, installed an Automated External Defibrillator for use in such an emergency. Today, Mr. President, I am proud to say that the Senate has passed a bill, the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act of 1999, that will make it much easier for federal, state and local government to place these lifesaving devices in public buildings and emergency response units. Automated External Defibrillators, known as AEDs, are small, easy-to- use, laptop size devices that can analyze heart rhythms to determine if a shock is necessary and, if warranted, prompt the user to deliver a life-saving shock to the heart. Research shows us that for every minute that passes before a cardiac arrest victim is defibrillated, the chance of survival falls by as much as ten percent. Research also shows that 250 lives can be saved each day from cardiac arrests by using the AED. This legislation will help reduce unnecessary and life-threatening minutes of delay, ensuring that public access to defibrillation programs are implemented in the hundreds of thousands of federal buildings. The Cardiac Arrest Survival Act of 1999, which was introduced by Senator Gorton and referred to the committee that I chair, the Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions, has broad bipartisan support, as well as the strong support of the American Heart Association, American Red Cross, and representatives of thousands of first response units across America. I would like to congratulate and thank all my colleagues for passing this legislation today, and especially Senator Gorton, who introduced this bill in August, and has worked tirelessly to get it completed before adjournment. But most of all, Mr. President, I would like to congratulate Mike Tighe as he celebrates the one year anniversary of the deadly heart attack that he survived because the airplane that he was traveling in was equipped with an Automated External Defibrillator. I hope the bill we passed today moves through the legislative process and is signed into law just as soon as possible next year, so that the estimated 1000 Americans who suffer from sudden cardiac arrests each day will have the same chance that Mr. Tighe did. Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I applaud the Senate passage of S. 1488, the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act, a bill which I believe will save lives by examining the appropriate placement of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in federal buildings and extending protection for those who supply and administer these life saving devices. Each year, over 250,000 Americans suffer sudden cardiac arrest with only 5% surviving. Sudden cardiac arrest is a common cause of death in which the heart suddenly lapses into a chaotic rhythm known as ventricular fibrillation and stops pumping blood. As a result, the individual collapses, stops breathing and has no pulse. Often the heart can be shocked back into a normal rhythm with the aid of a defibrillator. This is exactly what happened when I resuscitated a patient with cardioplumonary resuscitation (CPR) and electrical cardioversion in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in 1995. I am pleased to report that he is doing well now four years later. When a person goes into cardiac arrest time is of the essence and every second counts. For every minute that passes without defibrillation, a person's chance of survival decreases by about 10 percent. Thus, having an automated external defibrillator (AED) in an accessible place is important. AEDs are portable, lightweight, easy to use and are becoming an essential part of administering first aid to a victim of sudden cardiac arrest. We have seen that in places where AEDs are readily available, survival rates in some areas increase to as much as 20-30% and in some settings they have even reached 70%. During the 105th Congress, I authored the ``Aviation Medical Assistance Act,'' which was ultimately signed into law. This bill directed the Federal Aviation Administration to decide whether to require AEDs on aircraft and in airports. As a result of this new law, many airplanes now carry AEDs on board, and some airports have placed AEDs in their terminals. At Chicago O'Hare, just 4 months after AEDs were placed in that airport, 4 victims were resuscitated using the publicly available AEDs. Currently, there is a movement in the States to expand the availability of AEDs by expressly extending Good Samaritan liability protection to users and providers of the devices. However, in federal jurisdictions such as court houses, federal agencies, and parks, there has been no coordinated effort to determine where AEDs ought to be placed and how an effective training program should occur. In addition, agencies that seek to obtain AEDs for high-risk populations report deferring purchases due to concerns about litigation and liability. To help address this problem, the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act requests that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services make recommendations for public access to defibrillation programs in federal buildings and extends Good Samaritan protection for automated external defibrillator users and providers in States that have not yet passed state legislation on this issue. The bill does not require purchase of the devices, it simply asks for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop recommendations as to how best to develop these programs. The Good Samaritan portion of the bill is crafted so as not to pre-empt existing State laws, as well as to encourage States to continue to act on this issue in the future. In a matter of two or three years, 43 states have passed some form of AED Good Samaritan protection, which this bill will not pre-empt. Mr. President, I am pleased that the Senate has taken action on this important piece of legislation and I look forward to its ultimate enactment into law. I want to thank my colleague, Senator Gorton, for taking the lead on this life saving proposal. I also would like to thank the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross for their help in drafting this legislation. Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the substitute amendment be agreed to. The amendment (No. 2798) was agreed to. Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the bill be read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table, and that any statements related to the bill be printed in the Record. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. The bill (S. 1488), as amended, was read the third time and passed. Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I note I am very pleased to be a cosponsor of the legislation that was just passed by the Senate. [[Page S15218]] ____________________