Defibrillator on every corner

A new study suggests that coffee shops and automated bank machines would make ideal locations for installing automated external defibrillators to help people who suffer a cardiac arrest.

Researchers at the University of Toronto identified all businesses with 20 or more locations in Canada's largest city, and then mapped where cardiac arrests had occurred within 100 metres of those spots.

Principal researcher Timothy Chan says the researchers then came up with a top-10 list of prime locations to place automated external defibrillators, or AEDs.

Those locations include Tim Hortons, Starbucks and Second Cup coffee shops; ATMs for the country's largest banks; Subway sandwich shops; and Green P public parking lots.

Tim Hortons was ranked first, with more than 300 shops in Toronto. Chan says these locations alone would have provided AED coverage for more than 200 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests over an eight-year period.

Cardiac arrest causes the heart to suddenly stop beating due to an electrical problem. Responding quickly to restart the heart can mean the difference between life and death, and that means bystanders having quick access to a nearby AED.

"Health organizations, foundations and policy makers aiming to develop public access defibrillator programs could use our rankings to identify promising businesses to develop partnerships for AED deployment," said Chan, director of the Centre for Healthcare Engineering at the university.

"Ultimately, we want to get AEDs in the right locations, so they are accessible when needed most."

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