Norwalk Hospital and the Gudis Family Donate 100 AEDs to the Local Community

Danbury Hospital

MaryGrace and Mark Gudis of Westport and Norwalk Hospital are partnering to donate 100 AEDs (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 the town of Westport which underscores the importance of having AEDs strategically placed throughout our communities.  Mark Gudis, a Norwalk Hospital Trustee, was in the right place at the right time.  On October 23, he helped save the life of a 17-year old student who experienced sudden cardiac arrest at a sporting event at Staples High School.  Fortunately, Mark 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 9-1-1. 

MaryGrace and Mark Gudis, together with Norwalk Hospital and the Norwalk Hospital Foundation, have formed an awareness campaign to promote the need for more AEDs and CPR training in our communities.  “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,” stated Mark Gudis.  “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.”

MaryGrace Gudis, a Norwalk Hospital Foundation Director stated, “AEDs need to be easily accessible and within reach, because minutes matter in situations of sudden cardiac arrest. Providing AEDs is only one part of the solution; we need to be proactive in preventing tragedies and not simply reactive once an event occurs. We should be thinking about expanding training and examining the resources within the schools and our communities.” 

The Gudis’ hope this initiative will inspire other communities to take the necessary steps to help ensure there are more Heart Safe communities. MaryGrace added, “Working in partnership with Norwalk Hospital, the safety net of our communities’ health, and with the various school boards and towns, is the best way to move these initiatives forward.  Norwalk Hospital is committed to working closely within our communities to help provide education and CPR training in addition to purchasing AEDs.”

“We are very pleased to be part of a community effort to purchase AEDs and expand their availability in schools and other public locations as well as to expand CPR training in our communities.  Special thanks to MaryGrace and Mark Gudis for their generous support,” said Michael Daglio, President of Norwalk Hospital.  “Together, we are helping to ensure that our residents receive the early lifesaving response that is proven to increase chances for survival during sudden cardiac arrest,” he added.

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 EMS at Norwalk Hospital.  It can happen anywhere and to people of all ages; less than 1 in 10 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.

“Although many of our communities are designated as Heart Safe, there is still a need for AEDs to be deployed throughout the area and be available when needed,” Soicher added.  “In addition, we cannot underestimate how important it is for the general public to learn Hands Only CPR and to call 9-1-1 for immediate assistance in an emergency.”

About Norwalk Hospital

Norwalk Hospital is a progressive, patient-centered regional teaching hospital serving residents of south-western Connecticut and adjacent New York. The 328-bed acute care, not-for-profit hospital offers Cardiovascular, Cancer, Orthopedic, Neurologic and Digestive Disease care with advanced diagnostics, innovative therapies and state-of-the-art surgery. The hospital is supported by its very generous community through donations to the Norwalk Hospital Foundation.

Norwalk Hospital is now part of the Western Connecticut Health Network and one of the Network’s three member hospitals including Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital, as well as their physician groups and affiliated organizations. Share your comments with us at