MaryGrace and Mark Gudis, of Westport, and Norwalk Hospital are partnering to donate 100 automated external defibrillators to the communities of New Canaan, Norwalk, Weston, Westport and Wilton.

An AED is a portable device that delivers electrical shock to a heart that is not beating with the intent of restoring normal electrical activity so that the heart will beat again.

This announcement follows a recent incident in Westport which underscored the importance of having AEDs strategically placed throughout local communities. On Oct. 23, Mark Gudis, a Norwalk Hospital trustee, helped save the life of a 17-year old student who experienced sudden cardiac arrest at a soccer game at Staples High School.

Gudis, a Staples parent, had an AED in his car and took immediate action while school athletic trainers and two parents performed CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) and called 911.

The Gudis family, together with Norwalk Hospital and the Norwalk Hospital Foundation, have formed an awareness campaign to promote the need for more AEDs and CPR training.

“Due to the quick actions of our qualified Staples head athletic trainer and two medically trained parents watching the game, along with the readily accessible AED, we were very fortunate to have a favorable outcome,” Mark Gudis said in a news release. “Given this latest near tragedy, and others in our communities, it is very apparent we need more AEDs in our schools, on our athletic fields and in our community centers.”

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States, affecting nearly 400,000 people each year, according to Matt Soicher, director of emergency medical services at Norwalk Hospital. Less than 1 in 10 victims of cardiac arrest survive. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the electrical system of the heart malfunctions, resulting in a very irregular and potentially fatal heart rhythm. Using AEDs and performing CPR immediately (within a few minutes) can greatly impact the victim’s chance of survival.