ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Kits designed to encourage people to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on stricken strangers will soon be appearing in restaurants, bars, theaters and health clubs around New York.
The required kits must contain "exhaled air" resuscitation masks that will allow people trained in CPR to blow air into the mouths of people having heart attacks in an attempt to get oxygen to their brains and keep them alive until more extensive emergency procedures can be used. The kits must also contain disposable gloves.
The requirement was passed by the state Legislature in 2001, and regulations published by the state Health Department last week spell out what the owners of "public places" must do to comply with the measure. Besides making two adult and two child FDA-approved resuscitation masks available, four pairs of disposable gloves must also be included. A public comment period on the regulations will end May 25 and they are likely to go into effect this summer.
If used, masks have to be replaced with 96 hours.
Also under the rules, a sign must be posted warning patrons not to attempt to use the masks unless they have been trained in CPR. The sign also reminds people to call 911 to summon emergency medical technicians when someone goes into cardiac arrest.
The masks allow the flow of air from the mouth of a person performing CPR, but one-way valves prevent the cardiac victim from exchanging air or bodily fluids with their would-be rescuers.
David Sidikman, a Long Island Democratic assemblyman who sponsored the mask legislation three years ago, said the measure aims to prevent good Samaritans from being hesitant to administer CPR for fear of getting infected with a disease carried by the cardiac victim.
"Emergencies happen and we want to try to save lives as often as we can," Sidikman said.
The regulation expressly exempts the owners of establishments from liability if people cannot be resuscitated using the masks, a concern of the state Hospitality and Tourism Association and other trade groups. But the group's president, Dan Murphy, said as big a concern is that people trained in CPR are actually at work when an emergency occurs.
"You could have three people trained in CPR, and they could all be 100 miles away when an emergency occurs," Murphy said.
The Health Department estimated that the required items in the resuscitation kits cost about $50.
"I really don't think that kind of cost is any impediment whatsoever" for the affected businesses, Murphy said.
The American Heart Association supported the resuscitation mask legislation, said the group's Albany director of advocacy Paul Hartman. The Heart Association has since focused on efforts to require that defibrillators be present in public places beyond schools, where they are currently mandated in New York state.
"CPR can only keep the blood flowing until defibrillation is delivered" to get patients' hearts beating again, Hartman said. "We are now advocating for the placement of defibrillators in state buildings, health clubs and other areas of wide public use."
Under the resuscitation kit regulations, "health clubs" include martial arts or self-defense schools, health spas and weight-control studios.
New York City already requires the resuscitation masks in bars, restaurants and other public places, the state Health Department said.