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Automatic External Defibrillators Program


In January of 2008, Office of Health and Safety upgraded an existing University program by installing 135 additional automatic external defibrillators (AED) in highly trafficked buildings on its Foggy Bottom, Mount Vernon, and Virginia campuses. This program is part of a proactive effort to make GW a safer place to learn, work, and live. The new university-wide program makes certain that immediate care is available to victims of sudden cardiac arrest on GW campuses.

Every year, sudden cardiac arrest strikes approximately a quarter-million people in the United States. Fewer than 5 percent survive, often because emergency medical services could not reach them in time. According to a study by the National Center for Early Defibrillation, survival rates doubled in public locations with AEDs, compared to those without them. The devices shock the heart back into normal rhythm.


The units being installed are Phillips HeartStart OnSite defibrillators. Using clear, natural voice instructions, the battery-powered AED guides the "lay responder" through each step of defibrillation. Integrated "SMART Pads" placed on the patient's bare skin transmit information to the defibrillator, which senses and adapts to the responder's actions along the way. No formal training is required to operate these devices, and it is virtually impossible to shock someone who is not experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest. To view a demonstration of the devices, visit the manufacturer's website by clicking HERE.

Though no training is required, the University Police Department's Emergency Medical Response Group (EMeRG), will be offering orientation and certification sessions which are open to all interested parties. For more information regarding the frequency and location of training, contact EMeRG at, or call directly by dialing 202-994-0249.

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