Calls for Defibrillators on Commuter Trains

LOS ANGELES, CA – The LA Times reports that a recent death of a passenger from an apparent heart attack on a Metrolink commuter train has prompted officials to investigate installing Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) on trains or at stations.

The handheld devices deliver an electrical current that resets an irregular heartbeat. They have become increasingly common in government buildings, offices, and schools.

Passengers have questioned why the train did not stop to allow paramedics on board. Others have questioned why Metrolink trains do not carry defibrillators, a relatively affordable tool that can be used to revive people who’ve had a heart attack.

Federal officials have required defibrillators on commercial airplanes since 2004, but there is not a similar law for passenger trains. According to the report, officials sometimes worry that providing defibrillators can expose an agency to lawsuits if a device is used incorrectly or fails to resuscitate someone. But California law protects government agencies from such liability.

In 2009, Boston became the first U.S. region to install defibrillators on commuter trains and in stations as part of a settlement agreement with the widow of a man who died of sudden cardiac arrest on a train.

The devices have since been used to revive several passengers who collapsed on train platforms and on trains.

After a passenger died on a Metra commuter train in Chicago, transit officials installed defibrillators on all trains and in police vehicles. Officials also began offering CPR training to commuters on train platforms.