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"Project Heartbeat": Public Access Defibrillation

Photo of an external defibrillator in a wall-mounted container.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Each year, more than 465,000 people die from this condition, most commonly caused by "ventricular fibrillation" -  irregularity of the heart's electrical impulses, rendering the heart unable to pump blood through the body.

An automatic external defibrillator (AED) is one of the most important tools for saving patients who experience cardiac arrest. Defibrillation sends an electrical current through an erratic heart to restore the normal heart rhythm.

The sooner a sudden cardiac arrest patient is defibrillated, the greater his or her chances of survival. If a victim receives a shock within one minute, the chance of resuscitation is 90 percent; the chance of resuscitation drops to five percent if the victim waits 10 minutes for a shock.

Public Access Defibrillation

Baltimore County's public access defibrillation (PAD) program, "Project Heartbeat," aims to place AEDs in public places and to train businesses, schools and other organizations to use them. Cardiac Science Corp., provider of the latest in life-saving AED technology, is Baltimore County's partner in this endeavor.

Through Project Heartbeat, Baltimore County has installed AEDs in public schools and county buildings such as county offices and courthouses.

The County's emergency medical services experts encourage private businesses and organizations to begin a PAD program. For information about making your business or organization a "heartsafe" environment, call 410-887-4860 or email Captain Steven Adelsberger at

Revised May 8, 2013

Revised April 6, 2016         


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