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Defibrillation was first demonstrated in 1899 by Prevost and Batelli, two physiologists from University of Geneva, Switzerland. They discovered that small electric shocks could induce ventricular fibrillation.

The first use of a defibrillator on a human was in 1947 by Claude Beck, professor of surgery at Case Western Reserve University. Beck first used the technique of defibrillation successfully on a 14 year old boy who was being operated on for a congenital chest defect. In the 1960s, portable defibrillators were introduced for use in ambulances. Today, defibrillators are the only proven way to resuscitate a person who has had a cardiac arrest and is still in persistent ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia at the arrival of rescuers.

History of AEDs at Penn

In the fall of 1999, after conducting extensive research, the University of Pennsylvania Police Department was one of the first police agencies in the Philadelphia region to deploy AEDs in department patrol vehicles.

Since that time, the Division of Public Safety has coordinated and helped facilitate the purchase and placement of numerous AEDs throughout the main campus and several satellite sites, including the School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center campus.

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