Coffee shops and cash machines ideal locations for lifesaving automated external defibrillators

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Community coffee shops and cash machines might be ideal locations for public access to automated external defibrillators, according to new research published in Circulation.

An automated external defibrillator is a computerised medical device that can check a person’s heart rhythm and recognise a rhythm that requires a shock and advise the rescuer when a shock is needed. The automated external defibrillator uses voice prompts, lights and text messages to tell the rescuer the steps to take.

To determine where best to place automated external defibrillators in the community, researchers studied different businesses and municipal locations in Toronto, Canada. They ranked the businesses and other locations according to how many cardiac arrests occurred within 100 meters of the locations, and when they were open.

“We found that coffee shops and [cash machines] ranked highly across several related metrics, and that those rankings were stable over the years,” says Timothy CY Chan, study author and Canada Research Chair in Novel Optimization and Analytics in Health, University of Toronto in Canada.

Among the findings:

  • There were 2,654 publicly located, non-traumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Toronto from January 2007 to December 2015
  • Coffee shops from three major chains and cash machines from the five largest Canadian banks occupied eight of the top 10 spots for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in Toronto and its Downtown area
  • The rankings remained stable over time

“What this means is that health organisations, foundations and policymakers aiming to develop public access defibrillator programs could use our rankings to identify promising businesses to develop partnerships with for automated external defibrillator deployment,” Chan says. “Ultimately, we want to get automated external defibrillators in the right locations, so they are accessible when needed most.”