Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Electric Medicine: Defibrillators Offer the Latest Life-Saving Technology, but Their Deployment Requires Careful Planning. (Editor's Notebook)

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Electric Medicine: Defibrillators Offer the Latest Life-Saving Technology, but Their Deployment Requires Careful Planning. (Editor's Notebook)

Article excerpt

Sudden cardiac arrest kills about 250,000 people a year in the United States. That is more people than die from breast cancer, prostate cancer, house fires, hand guns, traffic accidents and AIDs combined, points out Tracy Byers, director of marketing for ORS (Cardiac Resuscitation Solutions) North America, Philips Electronics.

Most sudden cardiac arrests occur when a change in the electrical impulses in the heart create an irregular heart rhythm that causes the heart to stop beating suddenly. Death usually occurs in four to six minutes after cardiac arrest.

Automatic external defibrillators (AEDs), Byers explains, are "electric medicine" for the heart. As the American Heart Association states, "Survival is directly linked to the amount of time between the onset of sudden cardiac arrest and defibrillation. Chances of survival are reduced by 7-10 percent with every minute of delay. Few attempts at resuscitation are successful after 10 minutes."

Manufacturers have worked hard to make AEDs simple to use, but that doesn't mean that companies can simply hang a unit on the wall and be done with it. Byers said a successful early defibrillation program requires careful planning. Among the questions that need to be addressed:

* What is the ideal response time your organization is seeking? Do you understand what the response times of community emergency services are and how long it takes to cover distances at your facility? …

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