Are AEDs a Good Investment? You Bet Your Life.

Are AEDs a Good Investment? You Bet Your Life.

A recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer and was a cause for concern for the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. Authors Arthur Caplan, MD, and James Fitzpatrick, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania, cautioned readers about buying defibrillators, suggesting the concept of public access defibrillation may be overrated. More... We beg to differ. Here is our reponse.

As Caplan and Kirkpatrick point out, strategic placement of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) is important. It is also reasonable to prioritize public access defibrillator sites based on the incidence of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), especially when resources are scarce. That being said, it is important for readers to understand that SCA is a public health crisis affecting 295,000 people of all ages every year in the U.S.

To understand the magnitude of this crisis, consider the fact that 2,640 people died in house fires in 2010. About the same number died from SCA—over the course of three days.

We could not agree more that CPR is absolutely vital and everyone should learn these lifesaving skills. At the same time, the public should understand most SCA victims need to be treated with AEDs immediately—within three to five minutes of collapse. Even the best EMS systems in the world cannot reach the victim as quickly as bystanders at the scene.

Our National SCA Survivor Network is a testament to the benefit of well-placed AEDs. We have members in nearly all states and territories who can confirm they would not be alive today if it were not for bystander CPR and the immediate use of AEDs. Is appropriate placement of AEDs a good investment? You bet your life.

Norman S. Abramson, MD, FACEP, FCCM, Chairman of the Board
Dana Edelson, MD, MS, FAHA, FHM, Member, Board of Directors
Mary M. Newman, MS, President
Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation
Prozit's picture
Prozit wrote 7 years 28 weeks ago

Missing the point(s)...

Like the Foundation, I get tired of hearing the naysayers of this industry poo-poo the placement of AEDs because of costs. Especially when they don't have their facts straight. All too often they cite statistics that were generated out of a structured clinical study rather than reality. Dissemination of opinion based on structured data rather than reality is dangerous and in this case can cost lives.

On average, AEDs no longer cost $2000. In fact you can now purchase an AED for half that and soon even less. While it may be true that AEDs are carried by some law enforcement and first responder organizations this is not always the case. And, while it may be true in some environments, emergency services may be at your side with an AED [on average] in 5 minutes. This is not the case for the majority of our country. The danger here is that you have less than 5 minutes and often less than 3 to get quality CPR and a shock by an AED to survive. If you and your family member are at home how much time are you willing to risk to see an AED show up?

The liability question gets tossed around a lot but usually only by lawyers looking to make a buck or irresponsible business owners not wanting to spend the money. If you are going to spout issues of greedy manufacturers and distributors trying to make a buck selling (or as implied, overselling) AEDs lets not leave the real money grabbers out of the conversation. Good Samaritan laws across the country protect everyone from loosing a lawsuit so long as you don't do something silly like hit the person over the head with the AED rather than using it like it was intended.

It's not the authors decision to place AEDs in public spaces or people's homes. This is a decision made by the individual or business owner. If someone wants an AED closer to their person or colleagues its their decision to purchase the AED no matter what the cost. How many fire extinguishers and smoke detectors do we have that never get used? Why not AEDs? And remember, 80% of sudden cardiac arrest happens in the home. So why not have one at home? If I want to spend the money that's my decision.

You can make the argument (as the authors do) that only a certain number of sudden cardiac arrest situations are shockable (its around 45-50%) and survival rates can be very low, but who wouldn't want that chance? I certainly would. How about you?

AEDs are really smart tools that can help save lives. In my opinion, over saturation of AED placement is a good thing that should not be measured by dollars rather by lives saved.

Richard Bilger, President
Life Signs Plus
Mobile: 612.720.2522
Email: Richard [at] lifesignsplus [dot] com
Skype: richard.bilger

Bob Trenkamp's picture
Bob Trenkamp wrote 7 years 28 weeks ago

Are AEDs a good investment?

This is pretty simple:

  1. The sooner you get defibrillated, the greater your chance of getting out of the hospital with major brain function intact.
  2. USA airports - as a group - get 28% survival with major brain function intact. This includes airports that have AEDs and airports that do not.
  3. The Phoenix airport has AVERAGED 75% survival over ten years. They have defibrillators every few hundred feet. They have people trained in CPR. They have sufficient passenger traffic so that there is almost always someone nearby that knows what to do. Chicago O'Hare & Atlanta Hartsfield do, too.

People who aren't pushing for more PADs (Public Access Defibrillators) are betting MY life...and that's not good math from my perspective.

Bob Trenkamp, President
Saving Lives In Chatham County

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The mission of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Foundation is to prevent death and disability from sudden cardiac arrest. The vision of the SCA Foundation is to increase awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and influence attitudinal and behavioral changes that will reduce mortality and morbidity from SCA.

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