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Life Likely Saved by Arizona Arts AED Program

July 23, 2010

PHOENIX - One Arizona man is likely alive today thanks to a program that has installed 36 life-saving machines in 20 of the state's nonprofit arts and cultural facilities. Recently, Phoenix Theatre staff were able to use one of the automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) to stabilize the man in distress until help arrived.

Phoenix Theatre managing director Dan Schay describes what happened.

"There was a gentleman who was at a performance and was in distress, and one of the defibrillators was brought over by the security team. A man used the equipment and was able to stabilize the gentleman until the EMTs arrived."

Utilizing a grant from the Trust, the AED arts program has placed machines across central Arizona from Queen Creek to Wickenburg. More funding is being sought to expand the program to arts organizations statewide. The program is run by the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Director Bob Booker says the roughly $50,000 investment was clearly worth it.

"You can never put a price tag on a person's life, but I think it's paid for itself a couple of times already."

Some of the nonprofits had concerns about potential legal liability, admits Booker, but those concerns were easily overcome.

"We have a great Good Samaritan law in Arizona, that protects people from helping someone that's in a state of emergency. And, the training and the equipment is first class, so that really helps as well."

The AEDs come with a requirement for employee training. As a result, Booker says more than a hundred staffers at Arizona arts facilities have been trained for CPR and using the machines. He says the machines are simple enough that anyone can operate them, and they actually coach you through the entire process. Good Samaritan laws in many states protect citizens from liability if they choose to volunteer to help another in distress.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ