New York, New York – On June 8, the New York City Council passed the Harihareswara Expand Access to Rapid Treatment Act – or “HEART Act” – with the support of an overwhelming 50 out of 51 Council Members. The bill, introduced by Council Member Shekar Krishnan, will require the City’s Department of Health to publish data on the locations and quantities of all publicly-available automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in New York City, making the life-saving devices more accessible to any member of the public. Council Member Krishnan first introduced the bill after hearing the story of a constituent, Sumana Harihareswara, whose father died of a heart attack in 2010. The bill – now law – is named in his honor.
“As we mark the end of National CPR and AED Awareness week, I’m proud to have led passage of the HEART Act, which will help more New Yorkers find AEDs to save the lives of their friends, family, and neighbors,” said Council Member Shekar Krishnan. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death in New York City, claiming hundreds of our loved ones every year. By making AEDs easily accessible across the city, we can and will prevent countless deaths from cardiac arrest.”
“My father, S.K. Harihareswara, died of a heart attack in 2010,” said Sumana Harihareswara. “He was a community organizer, a priest, an independent publisher, and one of my inspirations. And then his heart stopped. Lots of us, especially people of South Asian heritage, have cardiac health issues. And COVID has weakened many people’s cardiovascular systems and led to more heart attacks. So it’s crucial for New Yorkers to know where our nearest AEDs are, and this bill gets that information where more people can get it. Too many people die when nearby AEDs could have saved them, and I’m so grateful to help us stop wasting that chance.”
“The American Heart Association supports efforts designed to raise awareness about the importance of knowing how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). When a person experiences a sudden cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately receiving CPR from someone nearby. More than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital each year, quickly performing CPR can double or triple the chance of survival for a person in cardiac arrest,” said Lawrence Phillips, MD, Immediate Past President of the New York City American Heart Association Board of Directors and Medical Director, Outpatient Clinical Cardiology, NYU Langone Health. “We applaud Council Member Krishnan and the rest of the NYC Council for their support of CPR and AED awareness and making sure New Yorkers are able to locate an AED when they need one.”
“Automated external defibrillators save lives, and in a cardiac emergency, every precious second matters,” said Council Member Linda Lee, Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addictions. “As the City Council continues to advocate for the cardiovascular health of New Yorkers, I am proud to cosponsor the HEART Act to require DOHMH to report on the availability of defibrillators across our city to create better health outcomes. I applaud Council Member Krishnan for his leadership in passing this legislation that will save the lives of countless residents who may experience a health crisis.”“Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any moment, and having access to an automatic external defibrillator is critical in saving lives. Int 814-A provides transparency and accessibility of AEDs in public while highlighting the importance of cardiovascular health,” said Council Member Marjorie Velázquez. “I’m proud to be a part of a movement that will save countless lives, especially when waiting for hospital transport is not an option.”