Columbia University Launches University-Wide Cardiac Response Program

April 19, 2018

Columbia University has initiated a comprehensive life-saving device and training program to help save lives on campus in the event of cardiac health emergencies requiring the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED).

The public access defibrillation program is designed following the guidelines of the Regional Emergency Medical Services Council of New York City.  It involves the installation of AEDs in locations across the University, along with trainings to increase the number of campus personnel certified to respond to instances of cardiac arrest and use an AED when appropriate.

“Columbia prides itself on providing the safest environment possible for the tens of thousands of students, faculty, staff and visitors on our campus every day.  There is nothing more important than the well-being of our community. This program represents that high level of care and may help save lives,” said David M. Greenberg, Executive Vice President of Facilities and Operations.

The program launched with the deployment of four mobile AED units within Public Safety patrol vehicles – two at Morningside and one each at Manhattanville and the Irving Medical Center.  The mobile unit deployment will be followed in May by the installation of 24 additional AED units – one in each of the Public Safety Operations Centers at Morningside, Manhattanville and Irving Medical Center, and the remainder placed strategically in the lobby of buildings across each of the campuses in order to provide optimal response to cardiac health emergencies.

Complementing the deployment of the life-saving devices, volunteer responders (up to five from each AED-equipped building) will undergo CPR/first aid safety trainings to be certified in CPR response and the appropriate procedures to use an AED.  Public Safety is supporting the program by providing the AED instruction as part of its emergency response training to all Public Safety officers.  The newly trained personnel join the existing network of Columbia University CPR first responders at Columbia Health, CUEMS and other departments across the University.

Employees currently possessing CPR/First-Aid or emergency medical technician certification may also volunteer to be Columbia CPR first responders by contacting the public access defibrillation program coordinator via email at aedprogram@columbia.edu.

“While all of Columbia’s campuses are situated within a strong network of nearby emergency medical services and hospitals, in some emergencies, every second counts.  Simply put, this program can save lives.  By providing increased training for all of our officers and staging AED units 24/7 within four patrol cars and in our three operations centers, Public Safety is further enhancing our role in keeping people on campus safe,” said James F. McShane, Vice President for Public Safety.  

Columbia Health has played a leading role in the development of the public access defibrillator program and will provide medical oversight upon implementation.  Medical professionals from Columbia Health will follow up on every instance of cardiac arrest and use of an AED unit on campus.

“Training personnel in CPR response and providing access to automated external defibrillators in case of emergency are actions directly aligned with Columbia Health’s mission to advance the well-being of the Columbia University community.  We are proud to help launch the program and provide ongoing expert support as we broaden the University’s health and safety resources,” said Dr. Melanie Bernitz, Associate Vice President and Medical Director for Columbia Health.

“The support for the rollout of the public access defibrillation program has been befitting what one would expect from a world-class institution.  From our campus partners who contributed to the initial design of the program to building staff and volunteers who will be supporting it from the ground level, everyone has recognized the program’s life-saving benefits and volunteered their assistance to make the program a reality,” said Rebecca Lonergan, Director of Compliance for Facilities and Operations and AED program coordinator.

The new AED locations are in addition to Medical Services, athletic facilities, the CUEMS ambulance and other buildings on campus where their existence is required due to a building’s specific use or occupants.  The new locations were selected by a committee of health and safety experts across campus designed to cover as large of a geographical footprint as possible and are considered a first phase with room for future expansion.  The mobility of the units within Public Safety vehicles – supported by the comprehensive training of all Public Safety officers and Public Safety’s natural role as the first call for an emergency on campus – fortifies defibrillator accessibility coverage across campus.

According to American Heart Association statistics, more than 350,000 emergency medical services-assessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrests – defined as events when the heart stops beating – occur in the United States each year.  Slightly more than 10 percent of people survive sudden cardiac arrest, with the chance of survival increasing dramatically if the victim receives immediate CPR.  AEDs are a vital link in the chain of survival and are the only proven way to resuscitate a person who has had a cardiac arrest.

The AEDs will be installed at the following locations:

Morningside Campus

  • Public Safety Supervisor patrol vehicles (2 Devices)
  • Low Library – Public Safety Operations Center, Room 111 (535 W 116th St, New York, NY 10027)
  • Butler Library (535 W 114th St, New York, NY 10027)
  • John Jay Hall (501-519 W 114th St, New York, NY 10027)
  • Hartley Hall Hospitality Desk (1124 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027)
  • Lerner Hall (2920 Broadway, New York, NY 10027)
  • Dodge Hall- Miller Theater (2960 Broadway, New York, NY 10027)
  • Law School (435 W 116th St, New York, NY 10027)
  • School of Social Work (1255 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10027)
  • Uris Hall (3022 Broadway, New York, NY 10027)
  • School of International and Public Affairs (420 W 118th St, New York, NY 10027)
  • Northwest Corner Building (550 W 120th St, New York, NY 10027)

Manhattanville Campus

  • Public Safety Supervisor patrol vehicle (1 Device)
  • Public Safety Operations Center (3270 Broadway, New York, NY 10027)
  • Studebaker Building (615 West 131st St, New York, NY 10027)
  • Nash Building (3280 Broadway, New York, NY 10027)
  • Jerome L. Greene Science Center (3227 Broadway, New York, NY 10027)
  • Lenfest Center for the Arts (615 West 129th Street, New York, NY 10027)

Irving Medical Center Campus

  • Public Safety Supervisor patrol vehicle (1 Device)
  • Public Safety Operations Center (650 W 168th Street, New York, NY 10032)
  • Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion (1150 St Nicholas Ave, New York, NY 10032)
  • Irving Cancer Research Center (ICRC) (1130 St. Nicholas Avenue, New York, NY 10032)
  • Georgian Building (617 W. 168 St New York, NY 10032)
  • Hammer Health Sciences Center (701 W 168th St, New York, NY 10032)
  • Mailman School of Public Health (722 W 168th St, New York, NY 10032)
  • School of Nursing (560 W 168th Street, New York, NY 10032)
  • Mary Woodard Lasker Biomedical Research Building (3960 Broadway, New York, NY 10032)

For more information, please visit https://preparedness.columbia.edu/content/automated-external-defibrillator-aed.