Penn research team raises cardiac arrest awareness
Perelman study shows that 70 percent of cardiac arrests do not occur near AEDs
May 23, 2012, 10:14 pm·
Maegan Cadet | DP
A Penn research team is urging Philadelphians to take notice of the locations of life-saving electronic devices.
The Perelman School of Medicine found that more than 75 percent of cardiac arrest incidents occur too far away from an automated external defibrillator for victims to access. Cardiac arrest survival rates remain at a low 10 percent in certain areas of the United States, according to Science Daily.
About one million AEDs have been purchased and placed in public places, but no one knows their exact locations because there is no collective comprehensive map.
Penn, however, is one of the first universities to have AEDs on its campus, and the Division of Public Safety has created an online map of AEDs.
AEDs have the ability to improve survivability from 2 percent to over 60 percent, but the medical school found the vast majority of devices are not located where people are most likely to suffer from cardiac arrest.
The medical school research team mapped out 3,483 cardiac arrest attacks outside of hospitals and the locations of 2,413 AEDs throughout Philadelphia. When comparing the two locations, the research team found that only 7 percent of cardiac arrests occur within a 200-foot radius of an AED — a two-minute round trip. After suffering from cardiac arrest, a victim’s survival rate drops by about 10 percent each minute without CPR or defibrillation.
Two Penn undergraduates spent last summer knocking on doors asking Philadelphia residents if they knew the location of an AED and how to use it.
“The best part about this project is that it was a University-wide initiative that spanned from Wharton to Penn’s Biomedical Library,” emergency medicine professor Raina Merchant said. “Everybody had an equal voice on the team.”
Merchant and the research team then initiated a Penn-led innovation challenge to look for AEDs throughout Philadelphia.
This past winter, Merchant directed the MyHeartMap Challenge, a contest that sent residents to locate and map the location of AEDs throughout Philadelphia using clues featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The two first-prize winners each received $9,000.
However, Merchant thinks that “people [still need to know how] to deal with the task at hand — efficiently locating and using an AED.”
Over 350 teams participated in the challenge locating over 1,500 AEDs. The research team created a mobile phone application that would allow the contestants to take pictures of AEDs and note the building’s location, its location within the building, its manufacture and if maintenance is needed.
“The onset of cardiac arrests is just as unpredictable as the location of the cardiac arrest,” Merchant said.
Merchant and the team plan to develop more AED challenges in Pennsylvania and in cities across the country.
“We plan to see how different incentives and structures of the contest will work best,” Wharton professor and research team member Shawndra Hill said.
According to Merchant, the next steps are to make the analyzed information available in a mobile application that anyone can use. She also plans to share the locations of AEDs with 911 operators so they can direct bystanders to the nearest AED location while waiting for emergency response teams to arrive at the scene.
“It is very interesting to see the overlap of social media and public health initiatives and how we can use social media to improve public health and knowledge about serious health issues,” 2012 College graduate and research team member Lindsay Nadkarni said. “I think that social media has the potential to do a lot of good for public health.”