aha case study
ReStart DC

Innovative outreach increases survival of sudden cardiac arrest in Washington, DC

As one of many examples where the aha Group has created, launched and maintained patient programs, Lisa Olson, the aha Group’s CEO, worked with the Heart & Vascular Institute at George Washington University to launch an innovative program to increase survival rates of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in   the nation's capital.  ReStart DC began with the understanding that we just have to do better. 

The mission was to donate 200 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to organizations serving low-income communities throughout metropolitan Washington, DC in an effort to increase public access to AEDs and increase public awareness about SCA. In addition to providing free AED devices, the program would ensure needed training and medical oversight.

The Critical Need

SCA is a leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 325,000 people each year — nearly one death every two minutes. Today the chance of survival from SCA outside of a hospital is only 6 percent.

The Rationale

An AED is a device that analyzes a person’s heart rhythm and enables even an untrained rescuer to promptly deliver an electrical shock if an abnormal heart rhythm is detected. Immediate CPR and quick access to an AED are critical for an SCA victim’s survival. For every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, the chance of survival decreases by 7-10%.

The Vision

  • Place AEDs in public places where large numbers of people gather.
  • Educate the greater public about the use of AEDs and CPR and provide training.
  • Raise awareness about SCA and the critical need for AED access.
  • Make AEDs as ubiquitous as fire extinguishers to maximize the likelihood that a person in SCA can be defibrillated within 3 minutes.

The Results

Over 200 AEDs have been donated.  All DC Public Library users and employees are the recipients of improved emergency services with a donation of AEDs at all 25 locations, thanks to the ReStart DC program.  The program continues to raise awareness, serve the underserved, and provide life-saving training and support.