Subject: Please Increase the Investment in Lifesaving AEDsEdit

U.S. House Of Representatives U.S. Senate

A life saving federal grant funding stream is on the chopping block and I write to request your help. Please do all you can to ensure that the Rural and Community Access to Emergency Devices grants, funded under the Health Resources and Services Administration, receive $10,933,000 in funding as the appropriations process for fiscal year 2005 nears an end.

Sudden cardiac arrest kills 240,000 Americans each year. Nearly ninety-five percent of those who fall victim to this condition outside a hospital die because automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are still not widely available in many public places. Defibrillators, small portable devices that are easily mastered, can automatically recognize a heart in crisis and will recommend a shock for only those victims that will benefit from this treatment. With greater access to public defibrillation programs, the American Heart Association estimates that some 50,000 lives could be saved each year.

Congress recently enacted - and has previously funded - these two competitive grant programs* that seek to lower death rates from this swift killer. By getting more AEDs in the hands of the public, Congress has slowly begun building the systems necessary to save the lives of sudden cardiac arrest victims. Over 20,000 AEDs are being placed nation-wide as a result of these programs and tens of thousands have been trained in CPR and AED use. We cannot afford to slacken our pace now.

I was extremely disappointed to learn that the House of Representatives cut AED program funding by $6 million for fiscal year 2005. This represents more than a fifty percent cut over last year‚s funding levels. It is almost ironic, however, that soon after cutting these programs the House then passed a resolution commending AED programs as life saving and important (H Con Res. 250, passed the House on October 5th, 2004).

Given the fact that Congress has not concluded work for the year, I am still hopeful that AED funds will be restored. The Senate funding levels for these programs are in line with last year‚s budget ($10,933,000). Those negotiating a final Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill will determine the final funding level for this line item and I hope you will speak to all members of the Conference Committee to ensure the higher Senate number is adopted in the final funding bill.

Thank you in advance for your work to restore these funds to last year‚s levels. I look forward to hearing what you were able to do in order to support these life saving programs.


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