This Could Save Your Life… If Your Savior Finds It

An automated external defibrillator or AED is a device that could easily save the life of a victim of sudden cardiac arrest. The only problem is that these devices are extremely hard to find despite the fact that they are portable and are installed all over the US. Office buildings, malls, schools, sports stadiums – all these are places where you could find one of the million AEDs available to the public. Unfortunately, it’s hard to locate them.

Though AEDs are considered vital public-health tools, they are often forgotten after being installed this way. Very few agencies and even 911 dispatch centers maintain a database with information on where these devices are located. Moreover, nobody checks them to ensure that they are still in working condition. Allegedly, there are fewer than 5% of the 225,000 sudden cardiac arrest reports every year where AEDs are used.

If you are a researcher or student studying the topic of AEDs, you might be surprised by what you discover. There are not many people fully aware of the importance and use of AEDs. If you need help with your academic paper on the subject, you can always hire a professional writer from the best essay writing service list. This way, you will have someone to help you perform your research, gather relevant information, and put it all together in a paper.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania started a crowdsourcing project that would change the way AEDs are kept track of. The researchers offered cash rewards for the residents of Philadelphia who could hunt down AEDs in the city. By using a special smartphone app, over 300 individuals and teams spent 8 weeks exploring the city, photographing the discovered devices, and recording GPS coordinates and other details about the location of the AEDs.

As a result, over 1,400 devices were found in 500 buildings. The information recorded about them will be invaluable to 911 dispatchers who can provide AED locations to the callers trying to help victims of cardiac arrest. The emergency-medicine doctor at Penn, Raina Merchant, who led the project, presented the results as the MyHeartMap Challenge at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association.

As the name suggests, sudden cardiac arrest happens unexpectedly when the heart stops beating. In half of the cases, the cause for this is an electric disturbance in the heart called ventricular fibrillation. By giving the heart a shock from an AED, the victim of cardiac arrest could be saved.

However, the odds of survival are decreased by 10% for every minute that the person is collapsed. In general, the survival rate is low though it does vary across the US: 7% in Los Angeles, 5% in New York, and only 3% in Chicago (according to the Seattle-based emergency-medical-services training school Resuscitation Academy).

In King Country, there are about 3,000 publicly available AEDs registered with 911 dispatch. The medical director of the county’s emergency medical services, Mickey Eisenberg, believes that they do make a difference. In 10% of cases, an AED has been applied before the arrival of the EMT. Out of those, 60% of the victims survived. Besides publicly accessible AEDs, there should also be a greater awareness of the importance of CPR as well as an emergency medical system that would improve survival rates. Today, only about 50 cities and states publish sudden cardiac arrest survival rates.

Finding AEDs in Philadelphia for the MyHeartMap Challenge was quite difficult. Every building in the block by the Federal Reserve had the devices installed, while areas with private businesses, such as shopping malls, had next to none. Only some hotels had the devices. For example, the Sheraton hotel chain has a policy of installing them, but many other hotels don’t.

AEDs are often concealed in some way. One device was in a padlocked container in a food court. Another one was on a wall in a public office building behind a plant. Volunteers had to get permission to get access and continue their search, which greatly prolonged the project. MyHeartMap was partially funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and supported by several AED manufacturers. It was a project welcomed by many researchers who believed that it could be an example others would follow.

In addition to raising public awareness of the topic, the information collected throughout the project could help better place AEDs in the future. In some public places visited by hundreds of people every day, there were next to no AEDs. Likewise, the study could also help better allocate public-health resources. AEDs are extremely important devices that could save millions of lives. That’s why it’s crucial that the public and emergency services workers are more aware of the way these devices work and how to make the most of them.