Dallas — In Correlation with the inaugural National CPR/AED Awareness Week, which took place June 1-7, the American Heart Association released a survey stating that most Americans do not believe they could perform CPR and use an automatic external defibrillator (AED) to help save a life.

In an online survey of more than 1,100 adults, 89 percent say they are willing to help in the case of a medical emergency, but only 21 percent were confident they could perform CPR, and only 15 percent were confident in using an AED. Sixty-five percent of the respondents say they have received CPR training, but only 18 percent said they had received AED training. Some of the reasons survey respondents would not take part in an emergency are a lack of confidence, concern about legal consequences and a fear of hurting a victim.

At least two lives were saved in fitness clubs this spring by the use of AEDs. Last month, the Oak Park, IL, fire chief recognized eight members and a club manager of a Fitness Formula club in Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, for saving the life of Rick Prescott, who collapsed while working out on an elliptical machine on March 3.

After one member saw Prescott collapse, staff members were alerted and called 911. In the meantime, a club member who also is a nurse and teaches CPR came to Prescott's aid along with another member who is an anesthesiologist. The nurse administered the AED.

Long says paramedics, police and doctors later told him that without the use of the AED, Prescott would have died.

On May 2, in the Atlanta suburb of Lilburn, GA, an AED in a Fitness 19 club helped save the life of member David Birge. Birge was working out on a cardio machine when he collapsed and had a seizure. Two members, a nurse and a police officer, came to Birge's aid and administered the AED, says Fitness 19 manager Brian Evans.

This was the first time an AED was used in either the Fitness Formula club or the Fitness 19 club. Evans and personal trainers at Fitness 19 are CPR trained, but none of the personal trainers were in the club at the time of the emergency. Evans says it would have taken him a few seconds longer to administer the AED than it took the police officer, who had just been re-certified in CPR training three days earlier. Evans adds he was fortunate to have had help in the club that night.

All Fitness Formula managers, personal trainers and group exercise instructors are AED and CPR trained, says Scott Lewandowski, Fitness Formula regional fitness director. Although AEDs are required in all health clubs in Illinois, they are not required in Georgia health clubs.

The intent of CPR/AED Awareness Week is to encourage the public to get CPR training and to learn how to use an AED to reduce death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). About 6 percent of out-of-hospital SCA victims survive, according to the American Heart Association. Without effective and immediate CPR, the chance of surviving an out-of-hospital SCA decreases 7 to 10 percent per minute. Even if CPR is performed, an AED is required to stop the abnormal rhythm and restore a normal heart rhythm.