Ridgefield woman who championed AED bill through legislature says 'we made a difference'

Photo of Shayla Colon

RIDGEFIELD — Eight years after her husband died of a sudden cardiac event, Suzanne Brennan has championed a bill to keep what happened to her family from happening to others.

The bill — SB-1083 — calling for all health clubs to have an automatic external defibrillator (AED) on-site with at least one employee or volunteer trained to use it in the event of an emergency was passed by legislators this week and is headed to Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk for a final signature.

Brennan said she’s “thrilled” it passed.

“It’s been a long road, but I know my husband is shining on all of us knowing we made a difference to protect other families and their loved ones,” she said.

“I feel that it is an early Father’s Day gift to my husband and a wonderful lesson in perseverance for my family in that all of us can make our suffering count for something, trying to make a positive for others out of something that was so tragic for us,” she added.

Suzanne Brennan’s husband, Edward Brennan, was a beloved coach and athlete in Ridgefield who regularly worked out at a health club in town. In late 2012 the 50-year-old man collapsed while experiencing a cardiac event at the gym and died.

There was no defibrillator or trained staff member at the facility available to help him, she said.

A study from the American Heart Association found immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with defibrillation can more than double a person’s chance of survival from a cardiac event, but for every minute that a victim goes without those life-saving measures, their chance of surviving decreases by seven to 10 percent.

Suzanne Brennan recalls many people, herself included, being surprised at learning Connecticut laws did not require fitness clubs to have AEDs and trained staff handy, which propelled her toward taking action.

She worked with state Sen. Will Haskell and state Rep. Aimee Berger-Girvalo to craft the bill.

Haskell said people should know Connecticut gyms will soon be just “a little bit safer in the event of an emergency.”

“This legislation is about saving lives and preventing future tragedies, and I'm so grateful that Suzanne Brennan reached out with this smart idea. I know her tireless advocacy will help other families avoid losing their loved ones,” he said.

“The next time someone suffers from a cardiac incident at a gym, this bill will make sure that help isn't far away.”