Coffee Shops, 24-Hour ATMs Are The Best Locations for Life-Saving AEDs, U of Toronto Research Shows

Coffee Shops, 24-Hour ATMs Are The Best Locations for Life-Saving AEDs, U of Toronto Research Shows

U of T Engineering team creates list of top 10 businesses where placing automatic external defibrillators would save lives

TORONTO, CA-- ATMs and coffee shops such as Tim Hortons, Starbucks and Second Cup make ideal locations for placing automated external defibrillators (AEDs), a new study says. University of Toronto Engineering researchers Associate Professor Timothy Chan and PhD student Christopher Sun, in collaboration with St. Michael’s Hospital, found that responding quickly can be the difference between life and death when someone is suffering a cardiac arrest, and that means having immediate access to a nearby AED is crucial – the chances of survival decrease by 10 per cent each minute.

Their research is already making headlines. See the CNN story.

“Previous research on AED placements had focused on broadly defined location categories, like shopping malls or office buildings,” said Sun. “But these categories generalize many individual businesses, which have different hours, activities performed, and other unique properties that meant we could be missing critical insight on which locations are really high risk. So we wanted to get more specific: which individual locations or businesses could AEDs be placed to make sure they are accessible to the largest number of people throughout the day.”

Their new study, published today in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, looked at where cardiac arrests occur, to find locations where AEDs would be most valuable.

First, the researchers identified all businesses with 20 or more locations in Toronto – facilities such as Tim Hortons coffee shops or libraries that would make good candidates to place AEDs in.

Then they looked at the number of cardiac arrests that occurred within 100 metres of each location, during the businesses’ operating hours. Using this data, Chan and Sun calculated the “spatiotemporal cardiac arrest coverage” provided by each location or business. The specific locations and businesses were then ranked to determine a “Top 10” list of prime spots to place AEDs. 

“We found that coffee shops and ATMs ranked highly across several related metrics, and that those rankings were stable over the years,” said Chan, who is the director of the Centre for Healthcare Engineering at U of T and a Canada Research Chair in Novel Optimization and Analytics in Health.

“What we found really interesting is that ATMs, as opposed to the more traditional businesses, are often standalone or outdoors, and are often available 24/7. They’re also universally recognizable and already have an electronic and security infrastructure – hypothetically, if we were to have AEDs paired with ATMs, it would be very beneficial,” said Sun.

Three coffee shop chains – Tim Hortons, Starbucks and Second Cup – as well as five of the big banks with many ATM locations, including RBC and Scotiabank, made the top 10. Tim Hortons was ranked first, with more than 300 shops in Toronto. These locations alone would have provided AED coverage for more than 200 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests over an eight-year period.

The researchers hope this new study could soon lead to AEDs placed in these optimal locations. “Health organizations, foundations and policymakers aiming to develop public access defibrillator programs could use our rankings to identify promising businesses to develop partnerships for AED deployment,” added Chan.

Chan’s lab has a number of ongoing research projects on AED placements, including using drones to deliver AEDs, and optimizing AED placements in high-rise buildings. “Ultimately, we want to get AEDs in the right locations so they are accessible when needed most,” said Chan.

Sun says cardiac arrests are unique because in the early stages they can be treated as effectively by untrained responders as by paramedics. “That’s why finding out the best placements for AEDs is so important,” said Sun. “We have the opportunity to save lives based on our level of preparation and organization.”

According the the researchers, the top 10 locations for AEDs based on coverage are:

  1. Tim Hortons
  2. RBC ATMs
  3. Subway restaurants
  4. Scotiabank ATMs
  5. CIBC ATMs
  6. TD ATMs
  7. Green P public parking lots
  8. Starbucks
  9. BMO ATMs
  10. Second Cup

See article in Circulation here.

SOURCE: University of Toronto

Bob Trenkamp's picture
Bob Trenkamp wrote 2 years 34 weeks ago

Title should be changed...

The title is: Coffee Shops, 24-Hour ATMs Are The Best Locations for Life-Saving AEDs, U of Toronto Research Shows.

The title - or the article - should mention that's only good in 15% of the out of hospital cardiac arrests, and then only when there is a witness.

Regarding survival rate; An implanted ICD fires within a few seconds, and the survival rate is over 98%. The study on the merits of cardiac monitors in hospital locations that weren't usually monitored showed that when a victim is defibrillated within three to four minutes of the arrest, the survival is 60% to 50%. And if ten minutes passes between the arrest and defibrillation, the survival is about 10%. It's not exactly a 10% per minute linear ramp.


Bob Trenkamp, President
Saving Lives In Chatham County

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