Tim Hortons coffee shops, 24-hour ATMs, and parking lots – these are the most strategic places to set up AEDs (automated external defibrillators) to save lives, according to a new Canadian study.
University of Toronto scientists say they’ve ranked the 10 best locations for placing AEDs in the city to help people who go into cardiac arrest.
Tim Hortons took the No. 1 spot – if AEDs were placed in the 300 shops across the city, they would have provided coverage to more than 200 people who suffered from cardiac arrests over the study’s eight-year period.
“Right now, AEDs are placed in a variety of locations like convention centres, athletic facilities, and shopping malls. There are certainly some places that make a lot of sense but at the same time, based on our research, I think there’s definitely more opportunity to place them in additional spaces moving forward, places that are supported by evidence,” Dr. Timothy Chan, the study’s co-author, told Global News.
Chan is a professor of engineering at the Toronto university. There, he focuses on applying engineering methods and computer modelling to solving health-care problems.
For his study, Chan looked at all businesses with 20 or more locations in Toronto from coffee shops to libraries and mapped out the storefronts and offices.
Then he looked at data on every cardiac arrest that occurred within 100 metres of those spots between 2007 and 2015. He looked at where the cardiac arrest happened and what time it happened, too.
Then he merged the two maps together. His team was tasked with making sure locations they hand-picked were open when cardiac arrests were occurring.
“Coffee shops and ATMs, in general, got to the top pretty much because they tended to have the most number of locations out there and the longest opening hours. Those factors contributed a lot to our calculations,” he told Global News.
The top 10 locations include:
Cardiac arrest is often confused with a heart attack. A heart attack is triggered when blood flow to the heart is blocked, while cardiac arrest occurs when the heart malfunctions and stops beating unexpectedly.
When it stops, it isn’t pumping blood to the brain, which is why paramedics have such a tight window to help patients before there’s a lasting impact on the brain.
Every second counts, so chances of survival decrease by 10 per cent each minute.
AEDs cost about $500 to $1,300. Dispatchers at 911 call centres can instruct people over the phone how to administer chest compressions, as well as how to use an AED, as paramedics arrive on the scene. Cardiac arrests are set off by arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat, so bystanders need to provide chest compressions and run the AED to help revive patients.
Right now, the placement of AEDs is “very decentralized.” Office spaces, businesses, apartment complexes may decide on their own to invest in an AED but there is no city planning involved.
Chan said he’s hopeful his findings could usher in a “partnership model.” In Japan, for example, he said vending machines offer AEDs at most street corners. If bystanders see someone go into cardiac arrest, they’ll know where to go to get immediate help.
“I think of that as analogous to the ATM and coffee shop idea here,” he said.
His next steps are to reach out to key stakeholders, such as policymakers, national health organizations and the big chains he identified.
Chan’s lab has already studied the value of using drones to deliver AEDs or placing AEDs in strategic locations in high-rise buldings.
His full findings were published Monday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
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