The Wall Street Journal's Middle Seat Column (subscription required) reports that hotels nationwide have essentially been hanging their DND signs when it comes to AEDs (automatic external defibrillators). The Journal notes that AEDs are "laptop-sized devices that can automatically restart a heart after
sudden cardiac arrest — are now required equipment on commercial
airliners and have saved lives at airports, casinos, health clubs and
many public buildings". But, as Mr. McCartney, who writes the column for the journal, observes "hotels have resisted installing them, citing
potential liability issues".
The Middle Seat's survey of hotel majors shows that the Hyatt Corp has roughly 20% of its properties fitted with AEDs with more to come. Select service franchisor, Choice Hotels has "very few" of its hotels equipped and Intercontinental Hotels "doesn't require its hotels to have AEDs but the matter is currently under review". Finally Marriott, Hilton and Best Western declined to say how many of their hotels have AED devices while
Starwood didn't comment.
Choosing to highlight an inarguable lacuna in hotel preparedness in terms of guest needs during acute economic distress is probably inefficient in terms of changing attitudes; many hotel owners and companies will likely resist taking on capital expenses associated with equipment purchase. That, however, should not rob the initiative of its merits. Neither should the fear of liability – an unstated but overt concern of hotels. Even programs that subsidize the installation of AEDs seem to have come up against a wall when it comes to hospitality as the the Journal notes in the case of a program funded by the St. Margaret Foundation in Pittsburgh where hotels have "been reluctant and want nothing to do with it".
a site with a byline that says "saving lives through education" also offers a clear primer on why "casinos, hotels and leisure facilities need AEDs".The site underscores the facility which the devices can be used noting that "
the new generation
of AEDs analyzes the victim's condition and, if warranted, delivers an
electric shock to the heart to reverse SCA (sudden cardiac arrest). Nearly anyone with proper
training can use these devices".
AED.com also elaborates on liability issues noting that "
All U.S. states but one have passed Good Samaritan laws with language about AEDs". That along with the Cardiac Arrest Survival Act of 2000 provides AED users with protection from liability.
The foregoing would suggest a need to rethink policies regarding fibrillators. Perhaps it is time to lift the DND sign for AEDs and roll out a welcome mat instead.