BLAKE GRACE, director of Ventria, a company that delivers an all-in-one managed automated external defibrillator (AED) solution, discusses sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and the importance of having an AED close at hand.

Sudden cardiac arrest is caused by an acute and unexpected malfunction of the heart. In most cases, an erratic heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation is diagnosed. The heart stops pumping blood, the person loses consciousness and stops breathing.

If the patient is not immediately treated with early defibrillation (a rapid shock to the person’s heart), their chance of survival is very low. The emergency services usually arrive too late to administer life-saving techniques, so early defibrillation by people already at the scene can be what saves a life.

An AED helps ordinary people to provide defibrillation quickly.

Why is it important to implement an AED programme?

The window to provide defibrillation is very small, which is why even in built-up cities globally, where emergency services are readily available, AEDs are being put in places that are easily accessible to the public.

The American Heart Association notes that for every minute that defibrillation is delayed, the chance for survival decreases by about ten percent. After ten minutes without defibrillation there is almost no realistic chance of survival; but there is up to a 75-percent chance of survival with immediate defibrillation.

An efficient programme of public access defibrillators (PAD) would optimally be able to achieve a three-minute response time from collapse of the patient to arrival on-scene of the AED with a trained responder.

What are the benefits of having the Ventria AED solution? 

If an organisation is equipped with an AED from Ventria, anyone would be able to help save a life. First-responders should be able to rely on the device and trust that the technology will deliver that for which it has been designed.

Ventria takes this responsibility very seriously, which is why the company has chosen to market the Philips HeartStart defibrillator that is made for people who have never used a defibrillator. They are easy to set up and include automatic life-guidance features (like voice prompts and CPR coaching) to help guide the first-responder through the treatment of SCA.

The Philips HeartStart also features SMART analysis. This automatically assesses the victim’s heart rhythm. Whether the victim is a man, woman, or child, it delivers the right amount of therapy and only if it is needed. Even if the shock button is pressed, the device will only deliver therapy if the heart rhythm is determined to be shockable.

What goes into owning an AED?

Committing to being prepared for sudden cardiac arrests is not only about acquisition and installation of an AED; a key responsibility is delivering continuous access and ensured readiness.

Setting up, operating and maintaining an AED programme is complex. Keeping track of key areas will help keep AEDs ready. These include: battery and electronic function, condition of electrode pads, physical condition of the AED, the lifecycle/age of the AED, and tools that can track and manage all the details.

The Resuscitation Council (United Kingdom) and the British Heart Foundation (Guide to AEDs, April 2017) advise that those owning an AED should have a process in place for it to be checked regularly and frequently, ideally daily.

It may make the difference between life and death!

How does Ventria overcome the current barriers to owning an AED? 

Managing an AED comes with responsibility. In order to comply with the recommendations of the Resuscitation Council and the British Heart Foundation, Ventria offers a revolutionary remote-monitoring tool called SmartLink.

This automatically monitors the status of the AED every day, notifying Ventria when an error occurs and ensuring all defibrillators are under control – in a building, public areas, farms and worldwide.

Does Ventria help in cases of emergency? 

SmartLink has an option to allow a hands-free voice connection for live dispatch support. This is really helpful if there are few people around. It allows the first-responder to make a call to emergency services directly from the AED, assisting them to confidently help save a life.

The removal alarm and the hands-free voice connection automatically start a pre-defined rescue chain, optimising response time and quick therapy delivery.

Most common causes not surviving  sudden cardiac arrest

Unfortunately, studies and real-life stories show that in number of cases AEDs were either not available or accessible, or even that AED failures occurred in the time of need.

The most common causes of not surviving  sudden cardiac arrest are:

• No AED available in near vicinity;

• No access or quick access to AED;

• Battery power issues;

• Problems with pads; and

• Failing attempt to charge and deliver shock.

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