Putting a Stop to Cardiac Arrest

(Originally published Sept. 26, 2005)

Santa Clara, Calif. — OnVantage, the meetings technology and sourcing company, has teamed up with a company offering cardiac emergency readiness programs in a plan to bring heart defibrillators to hotels and meeting facilities nationwide.

The program, which is being endorsed by the American Heart Association, will address an extreme need for meetings, according to OnVantage vice president Tony Stanfar. "There is a real void of heart defibrillators in the hotel industry," he said. "Our research indicates that 90 percent of hotels do not have defibrillators or a cardiac emergency readiness program."

OnVantage's partner in the program, CR Certification Corp., certifies establishments as being prepared to offer adequate aid for sudden cardiac arrests — which, to prevent death, require an electric shock to the heart within six minutes — through a program called CardioReady. OnVantage has adopted the same name for its own program, although it will have additional elements.

For OnVantage and CR Certification, implementing CardioReady will be a three-tiered process. The first is to educate hotels and other meeting facilities about sudden cardiac arrest and the importance of having defibrillators available. Information will be available on OnVantage's website and newsletters.

The partners will be visiting industry trade shows to explain the CardioReady program and display audio external defibrillators (AEDs), the type installed in public settings. The first such event will be this week's Motivation Show in Chicago.

The second focus will be to identify hotels and meeting sites with defibrillators and help them become CardioReady-certified. Certified properties then will be noted as such in the OnVantage facilities database.

But the most essential initiative of the program is to persuade hotels with no defibrillators — the vast majority of hotels — to become CardioReady. OnVantage plans to help hotels acquire the appropriate equipment and training to become certified through its ties with CR Certification and other AED industry leaders.

"This is really a great thing for the industry," said Stanfar. "It gives planners the ability to offer safety and security to their attendees."

A hotel receives its CardioReady certification by meeting criteria including having a sufficient number of defibrillators for the property's size, placing them in appropriate locations, meeting mainentance standards for AEDs, and training of onsite personnel.

AEDs are small, weighing from three to eight pounds, and usually are installed in walls, similar to fire extinguishers. When one is taken from the wall box, a siren goes off to signal an emergency. Voice prompts from the machine give step-by-step directions on where to place the paddles. When placed on a victim, the AED decides how much shock to administer, and with a press of a green button, the victim receives the shock.

Some may seem surprised that a non-medical technology company would take on a heath initiative. Stanfar said OnVantage was approached by CR Certification about the lack of defibrillators in hotels and the potential risks for meeting groups. After conducting its own research and finding that even the American Heart Association was having trouble finding hotels that had a cardio readiness program, OnVantage signed on with CR Certification for the program.

Meeting planners will have an integral part in CardioReady's success, according to Stanfar. "If planners make this an important issue, than it's an incentive for hotels to put defibrillators in place," he said. "We want to give planners the forum to tell hotels that they want them to have the program."

One way of doing that: There will be a CardioReady requirement option in the online RFP on the OnVantage website.

"It's long overdue," said Cinndy Hart, owner of San Francisco-based Hart Event Marketing. "I've used resorts that offered nowhere near the level of medical help necessary. There are not many services that could respond quickly enough to save a person in sudden cardiac arrest. It's wonderful that hotels are starting to install defibrillators."

For more information about CardioReady and how to get certified, see [email protected] or call 330-405-8233.