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Coffee shops and ATMs may be ideal locations for AED deployment

by Christina Hwang , Contributing Reporter
In a sign of the times, researchers are discovering that if you want to ensure there is a lifesaving automated external defibrillator (AED) near a sudden cardiac arrest victim, you should think about placing them around coffee shops and ATMs.

In a study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation, researchers led by Timothy Chan and Christopher Sun from the University of Toronto, analyzed the locations of different businesses in Toronto and ranked them according to how many cardiac arrests occurred within 100 meters of that location during store hours.

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The researchers discovered there were 2,654 public cardiac arrests from January 2007 to December 2015, and that eight out of 10 cardiac arrests occurred at three major coffee shop chains and five of the largest Canadian banks.

“This study highlights the potential of placing AEDs in businesses that are often abundant within cities, to increase public access to AEDs for use during a sudden cardiac arrest,” Marion Leary, MPH, MSN, RN, fellow of the American Heart Association, who was not part of the study, told HCB News.

“Just like fire extinguishers, AED deployment in high-traffic areas is an important component of public safety,” Leary notes, adding that every minute someone goes without CPR and AED use, their chance of surviving decreases by 10 percent.

The researchers identified the businesses with 20 or more locations that would make good candidates to place AEDs in, and then ranked them according to the number of cardiac arrests to determine a “Top 10” list.

Coffee shop chain, Tim Horton, was ranked first, with more than 300 stores in Toronto. More than 200 cardiac arrests occurred near the business during the eight-year study period.

According to Sun, the team found that the ATMs were often stand-alone or outdoors, and were usually available every hour of every day. Since they are universally recognizable and already have an electronic and security infrastructure, Sun said if AEDs were paired with the ATMs, it would be very beneficial.

Leary believes that there needs to an innovative approach to training and educating the public in CPR and AED use, what these devices are, where they are located, and when they should be used so that bystanders could feel confident to act during a cardiac arrest event.

In a different study published in Circulation, researchers from Denmark showed that AED coverage decreased by 53.4 percent during the evenings and weekends when businesses were closed, which is when 61.8 percent of all public cardiac arrests occurred.

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