CU pilot program mapping hard-to-find AEDs throughout Denver to save lives

Denver will be among the first to have an AED map

DENVER - According to the American Heart Association, more than 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before ever reaching a hospital. A victim's chance of survival is reduced by seven to ten percent with every minute that passes without CPR or defibrillation.

If bystanders knew where automated external defibrillators (AEDs) were located it could help increase a victim's chance of survival and save lives.

Dr. Comilla Sasson is an emergency medicine physician at University of Colorado Hospital. She is spearheading a pilot program to track down and map AEDs in Denver.

"Most often people don't realize that, that thing sitting on the wall is something they can use," said Dr. Sasson.

The Denver pilot program began in November 2010 and is part of a larger U.S. Food and Drug Administration initiative to improve access to AEDs.

"What we're trying to do right now is really integrate this so that when you do call 911, a map literally will pop up on the 911 dispatcher's screen and it will say, 'oh actually, you're at 21st and Meade, you know what, there's a device on 22nd and Meade…go run and get that if you have a second person or a second pair of hands," said Dr. Sasson.

Since 2010, Dr. Sasson and her team have found and logged more than 2,000 life-saving AED devices throughout Denver. They have tracked down devices at the Denver Police Department, local golf shops and the convention center. 7NEWS found more than 130 AEDs in Denver Public Schools.

7NEWS Reporter Marshall Zelinger put one of these life-saving devices to the test to see how easy it is to use.

As he opened the red bag equipped with the AED, the device immediately began talking him through the steps, instructing him to "apply pads to patient's bare chest."

After putting the pads on the patient's chest and plugging them into the device, the AED analyzes the patient's heart rhythm. At that time, the machine will deliver a jolt if one is needed.

From start to finish it took Zelinger one minute to use the AED.

"Considering you've never had your hands on an AED and you just basically followed the instructions that the AED gave you, I think you did a good job," said Denver Health Paramedic Wendy Lopez.

Lopez watched Marshall use the AED and saw his surprise when the device asked him to do CPR after it shocked the patient. Lopez tells 7NEWS that is normal protocol for an AED to instruct CPR.

"They time out for two minutes and you do compressions and it'll come back on and tell you what to do after that," said Lopez.

7NEWS has learned some private business have requested not to be included in the Denver 911 database Dr. Sasson is working to complete. Some local businesses have said their AEDs are for employee use only.

"If you're going have a device like this that can save someone's life, it shouldn't just be the person who works in your office place," said Dr. Sasson.

"In the ideal world they would be on street corners like a pay phone," said Denver Health Paramedics Assistant Operations Chief James Robinson.

In 2010, Robinson helped the city and county of Denver provide 1,000 AEDs through a program known as Save-a-Life Denver.

"There probably is some hesitation still and I think the best way to overcome that is with training," continued Robinson.

In Colorado, state law does not require training to use an AED. If a person uses a device and the patient dies, the state's Good Samaritan law will likely protect them from any wrongdoing.

Dr. Sasson hopes Denver 911 operators will have the AED mapping system up and running in the next two months. Once complete, Denver will be one of the first cities in the country to integrate an AED mapping system for 911 dispatchers.

For more information about AED/CPR training or to register a device, visit:


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