(Senate - November 19, 1999)

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[Pages S15216-S15218]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  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 
  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 
  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 
  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 
  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.

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