Automated external defibrillator, or AED. Credit: Peter Porrini / Shutterstock

The collapse of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin during a National Football League game highlighted the importance of having an automated external defibrillator – or AED – available during athletic contests. But unlike other states, Connecticut was ahead of the curve in requiring them.

It’s been over a year since health clubs and gyms in the state have been required to have AEDs available in their facilities. In addition to that they are required to have at least one person on staff trained in AEDs while the facility is open to the public. 

Sen. Saud Anwar, co-chair of the legislature’s Public Health Committee, said CPR is just buying a person time.

“It’s keeping the brain alive,” Anwar, who is also a pulmonologist, said.

The AED gets the heart back into a rhythm and gives the person a better chance of survival. If the heart is in ventricular fibrillation, the microprocessor recommends a defibrillating shock to restore a regular rhythm. The shock is delivered through adhesive electrode pads.

Anwar said gyms and health clubs are places where an individual has a high risk of having a heart attack because their heart rates are increased during physical activity.

The cost of an AED is anywhere between $1,200 and $3,000, and gyms are on the hook for purchasing them. 

The devices have been mandated in schools and at school sporting events since at least 2012.