Automatic External Defibrillators, or AED’s, have made it possible to fight back against sudden cardiac arrest, SCA, by making defibrillation technology portable, affordable, and available to virtually everyone – from organizations to individuals. AED’s have demonstrated a documented ability to drastically improve survival rates for cardiac victims; however, these life-savings devices are not effective where they are not available.
What is a Pad?
Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) refers to an initiative to place AED’s in public locations so they are available to save lives in the areas where large numbers of people gather, such as public transit, zoos, shopping centers, entertainment venues, etc.
Along with developing a PAD program, it’s important to spread the word to people regularly on the premises. The existence of a PAD program can be communicated through local meetings, demonstrations, publications, related web and social media sites, and even interested local media broadcasts.
In San Diego one of the nation’s flagship PAD programs was launched two years after 56 year old Ron McElliot – founder of the Arturo Barrios Invitations Race – collapsed at the finish line of his race in cardiac arrest. Though the ambulance assigned to the event had an AED, it had responded to another call (a non-emergency), and Ron was unable to be revived with CPR. In 2001 his widow Karen McCElliot and others citizens founded a PAD program called the San Diego Project Heart Beat, perhaps prompted by the realization from Ron’s death that AED’s in mobile ambulances were not sufficient to assist cardiac arrest victims in multiple locations. AED’s needed to be on location to truly provide citizens with a moderate chance at survival. Over 3,400 AED’s have been placed throughout San Diego to date and 58 lives have been saved.
Numerous other notable PAD programs have been implemented throughout the country. In Pittsburgh Subway stations , 500 AEDs have been installed – each unit carrying an American Heart Association (AHA) emblem sticker with a red heart and white lightning bolt. Airports, which are a prime location for cardiac mishaps, have also gotten on board with PAD programs. The Indianapolis International Airport, Orlando International Airport, Colorado Springs Airport, Nashville International Airport, St. Louis International Airport/Lambert Field, Tampa International Airport and Tucson International Airport all now carry AED’s for public safety.
Boston’s "First Responder Defibrillator Program," Boston Emergency Medical Services provides AED and CPR training free to companies that purchase a defibrillator, promoting the purchase of AED’s by corporations and organizations. Since its inception, over 90 locations have received AED’s, 5000 people have been trained, and the cardiac arrest survival rate has doubled.
In Rochester, Minnesota, the police department became the first in the state to be equipped with AED’s and again, since purchasing the machines the municipal cardiac arrest survival rate has nearly doubled.
The numbers of successful pilot programs add additional motivation to future PAD development because they numbers are so good. Only 10 months after The Pittsburg Subway program has been initiated, the survival rate of SCA patients has risen to a pleasing 75%. According to a New England Journal of Medicine research carried out in casinos in Las Vegas , 74% of gamblers who experienced sudden cardiac arrest survived after getting defibrillated within 3 minutes. When American Airlines fitted automated defibrillators aboard, cardiac arrest survival rates rose to 40%.
Basically, a well-developed PAD program can increase survivals rates for sudden cardiac arrest victims from 5% to 65% to 75% or higher, but the keys to success are accessible placement and trained personnel.
Developing a PAD Program
Developing a PAD program is relatively easy to do and may make a substantial difference to members of your organization. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), there are a few important steps to follow to establish a successful program.
1. Training personnel in CPR and AED usage. Proper training is a key to the success of any PAD program, since anyone expected to use an AED should be trained in how to use it and in CPR. Training courses can be completed in just 4 hours and provide confidence to those who may respond to a cardiac emergency.
2. Get a doctor. Not only is a physician’s prescription necessary to purchase an AED, but including a physician’s oversight in the program is a great way to help ensure it’s effectiveness.
3. Integrate with the local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) System. Knowing the location of the AED (s) in your building can assist local EMS teams, who may be able to add the on-site location to their database, and in a cardiac emergency, each second saved counts.
4. Proper usage and maintenance. While most AED’s work in a similar fashion, providing staff and organization members with AED training can help provide confidence and competence in using the machine correctly when an emergency occurs. Also, though infrequent maintenance is needed, it is important to review and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to keep your unit functioning properly.
A comprehensive approach to a PAD program that focuses on strategic placement, training key personnel, increasing awareness, and training will undoubtedly make an impact on your organization’s health.
Just Do It
There are few areas where this axiom is more applicable. If your organization doesn’t have a PAD program in place, get one. AED Training programs are available at local and online retailers, such as www.aed-shop.com, and more information can be found at the AHA website, www.americanheart.org.
AED’s have made it possible to make an impact in the fight against cardiac arrest. Join the ranks by educating others about PAD programs and how one can be implemented in your organization.