Co-workers of the late Art Tilson at the big mail distribution center in downtown Minneapolis are appealing to Washington for life-saving cardiac devices.

Since Tilson suffered a fatal heart attack on the job last June, his co-workers have urged their supervisors to install automated external defibrillators (AEDs), which they think could have saved his life, Whistleblower reported in January. Workers even identified an organization that offered to donate the units and training.

On Jan. 20, Erica A. Brix, senior plant manager for the Minneapolis Processing and Distribution Center, wrote a letter to a worker safety committee that she had made the decision "not to implement an AED program" because of the estimated 3.5 minute ambulance response time and the plant's existing CPR and first aid program. The cost of putting an estimated 18 AEDs in the facility couldn't be justified by the benefit, she wrote. She quoted an estimate from the "National Medical Director" that startup costs could be $5,000 to $7,000 and annual costs could $3,000 for a facility with just one unit. 

The workers haven't given up. WCCO -TV picked up on the story in a March 8 broadcast. In a March 21 letter to the state’s two senators, postal worker Bruce Johnson, like Tilson a Vietnam veteran, compared the workers’ efforts to get AEDs in their plant to troops in Iraq armoring their own Humvees to protect them from IEDs.

“[P]eople can cut through the red tape for an obvious good,” Johnson wrote, “and resolve life threatening problems.”

Whistleblower will check back with Johnson to see whether the politicians respond.