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Press Release

Health Department Urges Registration of AEDs to Improve Survival of Cardiac Arrest

Monday, February 4, 2013

Contra Costa health officials are urging all owners of automated external defibrillators (AED) in the county to register the lifesaving devices and mark them available for public access to increase the odds that they are used during cardiac arrest.

Registering the device is state law, said Pam Dodson, Prehospital Care Coordinator with the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Division of Contra Costa Health Services. By marking it as public, she said, a new information system called AED Link will notify owners of AEDs if their lifesaving device is within 1,200 feet of a reported sudden cardiac arrest victim.

There are about 800 known AEDs in Contra Costa County, according to the Emergency Medical Services Division, yet Dodson says few are marked public and estimates at least 200 more are out there and not registered. She said the devices are becoming common because they increase survival rates of sudden cardiac arrest and are easy to use.

"It is incredibly tragic to hear about cardiac arrest victims who did not receive the help of an AED when one was nearby—sometimes in the same building," Dodson said. "During a 9-1-1 call, AED Link instantly identifies the location of all registered AEDs near a reported sudden cardiac arrest victim. It then automatically calls or texts volunteer responders requesting that they bring their AED to the victim hopefully in time to save their life."

The health department is urging AED owners to take a moment in February for American Heart Month to assure that their AED is registered and to mark their devices for public use. EMS Medical Director Dr. Joseph Barger said the process to register an AED takes five minutes and has many benefits. To register an AED or to see if you have registered your AED, visit or call 925-313-9547.

"When you register your AED, you get free maintenance reminders, recall notifications and much more to ensure your device will work as it should when you need it most," Dr. Barger said in a podcast released today. EMS will make a presentation to the County Board of Supervisors at its regular meeting on February 5 for American Heart Month.

A person's chance of surviving cardiac arrest diminishes by 10% for each passing minute without care, Dodson said.

"The most important variable impacting survival of sudden cardiac arrest is the time to first shock," she said. "Involving the community in our response through the use of bystander CPR and public access AEDs we can greatly shorten the time to first shock."

To find out more about Emergency Medical Services in Contra Costa, visit

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Press Contact
  • Pam Dodson,
  • 925-313-9547