Tucson and Pima County residents are invited to join a scavenger hunt for automated external defibrillators (AEDs) during the month of September. The Tucson Fire Department and the University of Arizona Department of Emergency Medicine are hosting HeartMap Tucson Challenge, an AED scavenger hunt that aims to raise awareness about AEDs and to a build a comprehensive database of the devices’ locations. Registration for the challenge is open to individuals or teams. Prizes range from $50 to $5,000.
AEDs are electronic, brief-case size devices designed to allow bystanders to help someone who has collapsed during a cardiac arrest prior to the arrival of emergency medical services providers. Using an AED has been shown to saves lives; if a person suffering a cardiac arrest receives defibrillation within 3 minutes of collapse, the chance of survival increases 30 percent.
AEDs are cost-effective lifesavers that often are placed in schools, businesses, airports, sports clubs and shopping malls, said Terence Valenzuela, MD, UA professor of emergency medicine and medical director of the Tucson Fire Department. They commonly are contained in a clear glass wall box, sometimes next to a fire extinguisher. The spot is generally marked with a symbol of an electrical charge passing through a heart shape. Each device has voice and visual prompts that guide bystanders through the necessary steps.
More than 1.2 million AEDs are now in public places in the United States and about 180,000 more are installed each year. Sometimes, bystanders are unable to find the nearest AED during a medical emergency. That’s where the HeartMap Tucson Challenge comes in. Game players will assist firefighters and emergency physicians by reporting the location of AEDs in community settings throughout Tucson and surrounding Pima County.
“Our list of AED locations is definitely incomplete. We are seeking the public’s help to learn where more of these devices are,” said Dr. Valenzuela. The 9-1-1 communications center dispatchers will use contest results to tell 9-1-1 callers the location of the nearest AED.
“Cardiac arrests are a leading cause of death in the United States, but can be treated if recognized and responded to quickly with an AED,” Dr. Valenzuela said. “Most people realize that AEDs are simple enough to use. Just follow the voice and visual prompts. They are designed to provide a shock only when needed.”
An AED is usually activated by opening its lid. The commands then begin with visual, recorded and text instructions for baring the patient’s chest and sticking on the pads. Then the machine asks everyone to step back while it analyzes the heart rhythm. It repeats the request to stand clear if it decides to administer a shock. If the rhythm suddenly normalizes before a shock is delivered, the machine will report a rhythm change and announce that no shock will occur. Most machines also instruct in CPR and coach the timing of compressions and breaths.
“HeartMap Tucson Challenge will help us improve care for victims of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest,” Dr. Valenzuela said. “The results of this AED scavenger hunt in the Tucson area will be applied to scavenger hunts in other large cities in the United States. In the future, we will have a comprehensive record of AED locations throughout the country.”
“Public access to AEDs will save lives in Tucson,” said Tucson Fire Department Fire Chief Jim Critchley. “This is a great opportunity for our community to help each other in a moment that we hope never comes, sudden cardiac arrest.”
The contest is being held in collaboration with the University of Washington-Harborview Center for Prehospital Emergency Care, which is sponsoring similar contests across the country to build a national registry of AEDs. The location information in the registry will be updated periodically so that the public can receive accurate information about where these devices are at the time of cardiac arrest, says Graham Nichol, MD, director of the center.
Here are basic rules of the game:
• To participate in the contest, individuals or teams must complete the free registration online via cprnation.org.
• The contest starts Wednesday, Sept. 3, and ends Tuesday, Sept. 30.
• When you locate an AED in the Tucson area, report a brief description of it on the contest website, including the building address for the AED, its location within the building, and whether the device appears to be ready for use.
A $5,000 grand prize will be awarded to the individual or team that identifies the highest number of unique AEDs. “Unique” means a player or team has to be the first to find the AED for it to count toward a score. The grand prize will be “unlocked” when at least one individual or team identifies 500 AEDs, or all contest participants collectively identify 750 AEDs.
Ten $50 prizes also are available. Ten AEDs in the City of Tucson and surrounding county have been pre-selected by the research team as “Golden AEDs.” These are unmarked. Be the first to submit a report of a “Golden AED” and win $50!
The HeartMap Tucson Challenge is funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Zoll Medical Inc., Philips Healthcare Inc., Physio-Control. Inc., HeartSine Technologies Inc. and Cardiac Science Inc. The collaborating sponsors include: the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington, and the American Heart Association.