The US has been trying to bring down the number of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests for a very long time. In many states, it is still acknowledged as the third leading cause of health loss.
Over the years, health institutions have researched the areas where most cardiac arrests occur and started adding AEDs as a safety measure. AEDs, or automated external defibrillators, restore the normal heart rhythm and ensure the victim survives the ride to the hospital. As such, their presence is invaluable.
Nowadays, all 50 states need to have AED devices in crowded areas in an attempt to prevent losing lives to OHCA. In this article, we explain the top 5 reasons why AEDs are important.
What Are PAD Programs?
PAD programs serve to improve the survival odds of cardiac arrest victims in public spaces. These programs simplify the AED use for untrained bystanders, train anyone who wants to learn how to use AEDs, and continuously track numbers related to cardiac arrest for potential improvements.
All 50 states, including the District of Columbia, have enacted one or more of the following laws:
- Increase public availability and use of AEDS
- Limit civil liability for lay bystanders (here we can mention the Good Samaritan laws)
- Some businesses and schools are required to implement PAD programs.
As a result, OHCA victims today have better chances of survival with good neurological outcomes.
Why AEDs Are Important in Public: Top 5 Reasons
AED in public spaces is an essential first aid tool to have around. The US has passed laws about the implementation of AED in high-traffic areas both outdoors and indoors.
Since the implementation, the US has witnessed many improvements and decreased mortality rates due to cardiac arrests. Below we focus on the top 5 advantages you need to know about AED:
AEDs Save Lives
According to the Fire and EMS Department, an ambulance should arrive in no more than 5 minutes on the scene of a high-priority emergency. However, the issue is that cardiac arrests deprive the brain of oxygen. The brain is dependent on oxygen to maintain homeostasis. In case of oxygen deprivation, the victim can suffer severe brain damage due to the disruption of physiological processes.
The average time the brain can remain without oxygen without developing severe brain damage is 4 minutes. In other words, when you’ve witnessed someone go into cardiac arrest, you shouldn’t rely solely on the EMS team.
In case of an accident, giving CPR to a victim is vital. If the bystander supports CPR with AED, the survival chances rise to 90%. In this case, the person has a significant chance of surviving cardiac arrest, and this is the prime reason AEDs are important.
AEDs are Easy to Use
Back in the day, using AEDs required knowing how to read people’s heart rhythms and analyze the best time to deliver the shock. The responsibility was greater, and people avoided using them for fear of making the situation worse. But, unlike the old AEDs, the digital or modern AEDs basically do the hard work for you.
This means the AED can automatically analyze a person’s heart rhythm and advise the bystander when to deliver the shock. Additionally, some AEDs significantly improve and simplify the first aid or CPR technique as they give feedback on the CPR quality, chest compression depth, and rate. The bystander can correct the mistakes simply by following the guide on the monitor.
In conclusion, any bystander can use the AED with or without prior knowledge. All they have to do is:
1. Make sure they call 911 and report the accident
2. Grab the nearest available AED
3. Carefully follow the instructions on the screen
4. Keep an eye out on the victim until the EMS team arrives.
AEDs Are Accessible
AED accessibility is one of the key advantages, especially when it comes to crowded areas. Malls, shopping stores, schools, parks, and federal offices are some of the top places where most OHCAs occur.
With the AED implementation in public spaces and communities, cardiac arrest mortality has significantly decreased. According to a survey by the National Institute of Health between 2011-2015, bystanders helped and saved 1,700 lives by using the AED in public areas each year.
AEDs in Public Areas Give Peace of Mind to the Public
In case of cardiac arrest, one of the most important things is remaining calm. If a bystander panics, they will not be able to execute the CPR correctly or focus on the victim.
However, knowing that there is an AED device nearby to support the CPR if the victim is unresponsive encourages bystanders to help while remaining calm and focused.
On the other hand, people who suffer from cardiac issues also have greater peace of mind as they know if an accident happens, there is an AED device somewhere nearby.
EMS Teams Can Prioritize Emergency Calls Better
The AED benefits positively affect the EMS teams, too. When a bystander uses an AED immediately after spotting a cardiac arrest in a victim, the survival chances improve. Therefore, when the EMS team arrives on the scene to take over the case, they will only check the victim’s condition and take them for further examination in the hospital instead of reviving them, which is often too late.
Of course, it is important to point out that a bystander is supposed to follow the chain of survival when helping the victim. The first step or link in the chain of survival is calling the emergency team to ensure that if the situation worsens, someone is on the way to intervene.
Ultimately, a serious barrier we have to mention is that reports state that many bystanders don’t know where to look for AEDs in public spaces. Below we explain where and how to look for an AED in a public area.
Where to Look for an AED in a Public Area
AED devices have to be placed in accessible areas visible to everyone. However, if you cannot see any AED in case of an accident, here are some helpful navigation tips you should know:
- Follow the signs: If you’re in an indoor public area, for example, a market or mall, there will be signs leading you to the AED location. If you’ve never seen an AED sign, they are marked with a heart and a lightning bolt inside the heart. There will usually be an “AED” mark above the heart. Follow the signs, and you will find the AED cabinet that should be unlocked. Take it and start with CPR.
- Ask around: This tip applies outdoors and indoors. One of the benefits of a crowded area is that it’s very likely to run into someone who knows the area and can locate the nearest AED. Moreover, you can ask them to call 911 and bring the AED to you while you provide CPR to the victim, saving precious time.
- Call the EMS: If no one is around you, the first thing you should do is call the EMS team. They know where AEDs are planted and will direct you where to find them. Also, they will guide you during the cardiac emergency response and tell you what to do until they arrive to take over the case.
- Download AED apps: There are many apps available for both Android and iPhone users that map out all AED locations in a given city.
Finally, bear in mind that modern AEDs are designed so that anyone can use them. Don’t discourage yourself from using them, because AEDs save lives.
AED Importance in Public Spaces: Conclusion
The AED importance in public areas marks the difference between life and death. As we have seen in numerous studies, public safety has improved with the AED implementation.
Speaking of AED effectiveness, in this article, we learned that supporting CPR with an AED improves the survival chances of a victim by 90%.
We hope you found this article useful and that you’ve learned more about the importance of defibrillators. But more importantly, we hope it encourages you to take action and help victims in need now that you know where to find AED in communities or public spaces.