Following the passage of a law that regulates and encourages the use ofautomated external defibrillators (AEDs) outside hospital environments, organizations throughout Portugal are equipping their buildings with the life-saving devices. The law allows laypersons who have completed AED training to use AEDs to provide aid to victims of sudden cardiac arrest.
The Portugal News Online reports that an estimated 20,000 sudden cardiac deaths occur in the country every year — about 55 incidents a day. The new law, passed in 2009, makes provision for AEDs through public access defibrillation programs (PADs) and through the country’s medical emergency system.
While many European countries encourage the use of AEDs by all laypersons, Portugal currently limits AED use to laypersons who have been trained and certified in AED use. Seven companies have been approved by Portugal’s medical emergency response authority, INEM, to conduct AED training. Currently, more than 800 non-medics have been trained and certified to use the 145 AEDs licensed for use in Portugal. INEM told the media that two-thirds of these units are in public places such as shopping centers and airports.
The Sheraton Hotels in Lisbon and Oporto, Portugal, were the first five-star hotels in the country to install AEDs. Their parent company, the Starwood Group, is implementing a plan to equip all their properties with AEDs.
A representative of the Sheraton told The Portugal News that 28 employees have been trained and authorized to use the AEDs.
In December, Escola Básica Integrada da Boa Água, in Sesimbra (Setubal), became the first school in Portugal to install an AED. The school, which has some 800 students, is equipped with a Cardiac Science Powerheart AED G3 and 12 school staff members have been trained by Med First and certified in AED use.
Portugal’s renowned football star Rui Costa, now director of football for Sport Lisboa and Benfica, was part of a ceremony at the school attended by representatives of Med First (Dr. Nelson Olim and Cristina Santos) and and EKG Science Medical (Rui Tomás, Miguel Abreu and Inês Melo). This video from TV2.RTP shows a AED demonstration and simulated rescue at the school event: