Chicago HeartSave Program

The Chicago HeartSave Program, the world’s first AED Program, is the vision of Sherry Caffrey-Villari - the founding CEO of Public Safety Solutions, Inc. Launched in 1999, the program is maintained entirely by the PSSI team to this day.


The HeartSave Program was developed based on the hypothesis that making Automated External Defibrillators (AED) available to the public and empowering non-medical citizens to provide aid during a medical emergency would lead to an increase in sudden cardiac arrest survival rates. This theory was based on the fact that providing quality Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and delivering a shock to the heart using an AED within the first few minutes of the arrest is the only way to recover a normal heart rhythm; if aid is not given, chances of survival decrease by 10% with every minute that passes. Unfortunately, the average response time for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) across the country exceeds 10 minutes. Ultimately, unless a witness of the cardiac arrest event immediately initiates CPR and uses a defibrillator, the victim’s chances of survival are very slight. Recognizing an opportunity to save lives, Sherry Caffrey Villari designed the world’s first AED Program and revolutionized the public safety industry.

The first Public Access to Defibrillation program involved placing Automated External Defibrillators in O’Hare and Midway terminals within a 1-2 minute walk from any point at the airports. CPR/AED and First Aid classes were offered to first responders and lay persons working in the airport facilities. In addition, public service announcements were issued to educate travelers about the availability of the user-friendly AED units. Shortly after the Chicago HeartSave Program was implemented, it became evident that a public emergency response model is effective in averting sudden cardiac death. In the first 10 months after the implementation of the world’s first AED program, 14 cardiac arrest events occurred, and nine of the victims (64%) were successfully revived.

This breakthrough in the field of public safety caused PSSI to become the catalyst behind multi-million dollar studies performed by institutions such as  the National Institute of Health, The New England Journal of Medicine, and the American Heart Association, which were meant to access the effectiveness of such public safety initiatives. The results repeatedly concluded that the presence of defibrillators in public places increases cardiac arrest survival rates only if the AED units are continuously maintained and a trained emergency response team is always present and ready to react. Thus, PSSI exists to facilitate the creation, implementation, and management of these high-maintenance AED programs.

If you are looking to institute a new AED program, update, or expand your existing program, we can help you achieve your safety goals through unbiased and proactive AED program management. See how we can help you save a life! Contact us today!


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