Canada’s approach to sudden cardiac arrest: Cardiac Science for the week of October 12

Heartsafe news: Our weekly update on what’s happening in the world of heart safety and noninvasive cardiology

Cardiac arrest in Canada: a “silent killer”

Why is the survival rate for out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest 16.3 percent in Seattle but only 9.7 percent in Vancouver, B.C., and 5.5 percent in Toronto? In an article in their Oct. 8 issue, Maclean’s magazine decries the “host of deficiencies” inCanada’s approach to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

“How can the nation’s number one cause of death — a disease that affects 35,000 to 45,000 Canadians each year—be a silent killer?” the article asks.

“What is surprising,” the article goes on, “is many of the failures come in to play not in the ambulance or the ER—but on the street, before paramedics even arrive.”

Problems include:

• Lack of community commitment CPR and to CPR training. According to Maclean’s, Canada turns out to have one of the lowest bystander responder rates in the Western world — a mere 15 percent. (The Edmonton region is an exception, where bystanders will administer CPR in 46 percent of instances of sudden cardiac arrest.)

• Problems with automated external defibrillator (AED) deployment and AED training. Canadian cities often don’t have a public access to defibrillation (PAD) program in place to register AEDs. As a result, 911 dispatchers aren’t able to tell callers where the nearest AED is located.

The article includes an extensive analysis of issues, from research on CPR protocols to national guidelines for training citizens to respond to sudden cardiac arrest.

Chicago Metra trains: Considering AEDs in wake of passenger death

A 63-year-old man suffered sudden cardiac arrest and died last week while riding an early morning Metra commuter train in Chicago.

A conductor made an announcement asking for help from any medical personnel on the train, and emergency responders met the train at the next station. Crew and passengers attempted CPR before the train arrived at the station, according to news reports, but no AED was available on the train.

Metra officials told news media that automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are available at Metra’s downtown stations and that Metra is evaluating whether or not to place AEDs on trains.

amtrak_logoIn contrast, Amtrak has a ground-breaking AED deployment in terms of size, scope, and complexity. Excepting airline deployments, this was (and remains) the most ambitious AED program in the transportation industry. Nearly 700 Cardiac Science AEDs in train stations, security vehicles, maintenance facilities, and passenger trains cover the vast Amtrak network. Virtually every Amtrak employee (nearly 7,000 of them) have been trained on AED/CPR through our AED Program Management services.

Separately, a study of the Munich subway system found AEDs “highly effective and safe for the acute treatment of patients with cardiac arrest.”

West Midlands, UK: AED signage points the way to community AEDs


West Midlands AED signage

In the West Midlands, Cardiac Science working with West Midlands Ambulance Service on a signage project to make sure that people can find community automated external defibrillators.

According to a Halesowen News report, there are more than 1900 defibrillators in the West Midlands, but community safety officials discovered that many citizens didn’t know where to find one in an emergency. Now, each AED location will have a sign that includes a unique identification number. The number will enable safety officials to keep track of AEDs, and allow emergency dispatchers to direct callers to the nearest AED.

Cardiac Science and Lichfield District Safer Community Partnership are sponsoring printing of the signage.

Hearts at Play serious about AEDs

In Mansfield, Massachusetts, the local organization Hearts at Play has raised nearly $100,ooo for heart research and health. The Norton Mirror reports that, in addition to funding heart research at Children’s Hospital in Boston, the organization has donated automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for Mansfield Youth Soccer, Mansfield Youth Baseball, Mass Premier Courts, Pop Warner Football, Flag Football, and the Mansfield school office — plus helped out with replacement supplies and batteries for AEDs already in the community schools.

Hearts at Play was founded by Ellie Lea of Mansfield, whose two children have congenital heart defects.