AEDs Can Save Lives But Only If They’re Available

Importance of making AEDs readily available

It’s a proven fact that automated external defibrillators save lives (if they didn’t, they wouldn’t exist). The problem, at least according to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation (SCAF), is that they aren’t always readily available when a need arises.

According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, sudden cardiac arrest is the third leading cause of death in the United States and over 326,000 people of all ages experience EMS-assessed out-of-hospital non-traumatic SCA each year. In fact, the number of people who die each year from SCA is roughly equivalent to the number who die from Alzheimer’s, assault with firearms, breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, HIV, house fires, motor vehicle accidents, prostate cancer, and suicides combined, according to the article.

Fortunately, through widespread CPR-AED training, AED deployment, and disappearing liability concerns for Good Samaritans thanks to the proactive action of state legislatures, SCA mortality rates have dropped.

While the effectiveness of AEDs – when used by emergency and non-medical personnel – has been well documented, the concern is that these devices may not always be readily available. To be most effective, these devices must be used quickly, ideally within minutes after a victim become unconscious and unresponsive.

According to the article, the average rate of survival from cardiac arrest occurring outside the hospital is 10 percent, but that rate increases to 40 percent when bystanders give CPR and use AEDs before EMS arrives at the scene.

Although more defibrillators are more publicly available, there is much work to be done. A recent study recently examined 451 cases of SCA and found that all incidents occurred within 100 meters of an AED. However, one-quarter of the time, AEDs were behind locked doors and in nearly two-thirds of the cases examined occurred during nights and weekends when access to AEDs in nearby office buildings, schools, etc. was limited.

To further reduce the number of deaths by SCA, lifesaving equipment needs to be available 24/7, argues the SCAF. Whether that’s climate-controlled outdoor cabinets or deliveries via Uber or cardiac drones, these devices need to be readily available when an emergency strikes.

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