• Action News Jax investigation: What makes it so hard to find defibrillators in Jacksonville?

    By: Kevin Clark, Action News Jax


    J.R. Bourne’s life changed in 2015, during a hot June morning on Jacksonville Beach.

    “I turned away from the shore, and just kind of felt light-headed and instantly the lights just kind of went out,” Bourne said.

    Bourne, who was 40 years old at the time, had suffered Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

    He remembers a flurry of activity: his friend performing CPR, the urgency of lifeguards, and a knee-buckling electrical current shooting through his body.

    “Then instantly, ‘Ba-boom,’ I got hit with a second shock,” Bourne said.

    Lifeguards used an automated external defibrillator to shock his heart rhythm back to normal.

    According to the most recent numbers from the American Heart Association, Bourne was lucky.

    In 2016, more than 350,000 Americans suffered out-of-hospital Sudden Cardiac Arrest, but only 12 percent survived.

    Captain Rob Emahiser demonstrated one of the five A-E-Ds Jax Beach Ocean Rescue uses.

    The devices walk users through the process step by step.

    Once the adhesive is attached to the victim’s chest, the AED checks the heart’s rhythm to determine if a shock is needed.

    So where can you find those life-saving devices? As Action News Jax uncovered, it’s hard to know.

    One expert compared AED laws to those of fire extinguishers before the development of National Fire Codes. There’s no national movement toward AED requirements, and the laws that do exist are fragmented among state and local governments.

    Per Florida law, AEDs are required in dental offices, assisted living facilities with a minimum number of beds, and high schools that are members of the Florida High School Athletic Association.

    One statute encourages them at state parks. Action News Jax visited only one locally, but didn’t find one.

    Dave Magruder is President of Life Safety Solutions, a company that develops public access programs for AEDs.

    He says local AED laws are even more inconsistent than state laws.

    “There are some local ordinances where the local fire rescue department will go out and inspect and ensure that they’re meeting the mandates of that ordinance, but it’s very fragmented and very few,” Magruder said.

    Duval County is the only county in the area that has any ordinances for AEDs. However, it doesn’t mandate them, only requiring you to register the device with JFRD.

    In City Hall, multiple AEDs per floor were found, including four on the fourth floor.

    Bourne has become an advocate for stricter AED laws that will give people more access to the devices.

    “Without the AED, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now,” Bourne said.

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