In 2000, the City of Anaheim was the first city in Orange County to develop its own “PAD” program (Public Access Defibrillation). Defibrillation is performed using a small electrical machine called an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). These devices deliver an electrical shock to the heart with the intent of stopping a life threatening rhythm called ventricular fibrillation. During ventricular fibrillation, a victim’s heart is rapidly quivering and therefore it cannot pump blood to the vital organs.
Through the PAD Program, approximately 500 City of Anaheim employees are trained in CPR and AED operation. These trained employees can use any of the 110 AEDs strategically located throughout the city. According to American Heart Association statistics, a person’s chances of being revived after going into ventricular fibrillation decrease by 10% for every minute gone by. The goal of the city PAD program is to increase a victim’s chances of survival by immediately administering CPR and then defibrillation while waiting for Fire Department paramedics to arrive and provide advanced cardiac life support. Since the City of Anaheim’s PAD Program’s inception, there have been three documented cases in which early CPR and defibrillation was performed and it resulted in the victims heart being converted into a viable rhythm.
The City of Anaheim Fire Department manages all aspects of the PAD program. The PAD program is broken down into two sections: AED maintenance and training. There are approximately 110 AEDs located throughout the City of Anaheim, most of which are in the city owned buildings. The Anaheim Fire Department routinely inspects these AEDs and replaces batteries and accessories as needed.
Once trained, employees are issued a course completion card through the American Heart Association and this certification lasts for two years. Several months before an employee’s certification expires, a reminder e-mail is sent to the cardholder from a database created by the Anaheim Fire Department. The Fire Department conducts certification classes twice a month and the instructors are Anaheim Fire Department Paramedics/Firefighters and Fire Department Reserves.
Every year, the number of PAD programs across the United States continues to grow as communities recognize the PAD program as an effective life saving tool.