PRLog (Press Release) – May 26, 2011 – Living or working in high-rise residential or office towers has not been considered to be especially dangerous, yet the risk is substantial.
Every year more than 360,000 Americans will die of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and a large fraction, someday the majority of these deaths, will occur there. No firm figures are kept.
There are three main reasons why being in a high-rise just about eliminates your chance of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest.
1) Access: 911 emergency vehicles cannot reasonably get to you within four minutes, which is required for a proper SCA rescue. You can bet your life on it – and you’ll lose.
Chaos, fear, then call volume, available units, city traffic, address confusion, buildings with entrance codes, elevators – all steal time. After four minutes, survivability for a cardiac arrest drops 10% with each passing minute, from 70% to 5% after ten minutes – brain damage enroute. So time is everything with SCA’s – any delay is critical.
2) No AED: High-rises are not making automated external defibrillators available in-house, despite their negligible cost.
A public access defibrillator costing under $2000 – there in its cabinet in the lobby – can protect everyone in the complex, yet they are not being installed. They clearly must be in the building beforehand when an SCA occurs, and our trust in vehicle-based responders is misplaced – something that is not realized by the public.
Emergency (EMS) crews’ jobs depend on their “attending” many such events – ergo multiple fire trucks and ambulances working their way across town to claim them, to little avail against SCA’s. That said – if that is how we pay our fire and ambulance responders, they have no option but to serve . It’s a policy issue that largely hinges on whether AEDs become recognized as the missing, on-premises link that can take up the slack.
3) Heart Disease: It’s our most likely nemesis, and as a society we have to take its associated dangers seriously. Although US deaths from SCA’s are 100 times higher than from fires or smoke-inhalation, the AED industry is 100 times smaller than the fire department infrastructure – which plainly needs a new policy for dealing with cardiac arrests.
The prevalence of circulatory illnesses and their resulting high mortality amplifies the risk in tower buildings, where our densest populations are unprotected, means thousands are dying when they needn’t. And they are by far the easiest and cheapest to defend, if efficient funding matters.
“It’s a watershed moment for the heart safety and EMS communities,” says Dwight Jones of Elevaed Technologies, “because it’s become a matter of character. We have this magical AED device, which grants you a four minute window – and no more – when you’ve otherwise died of heart failure. Just one AED in an elevator lobby or with a security guard can bring that Genie to hundreds of people in these buildings. But if the device is not in-house, you’re staying dead, and ultimately we’re all to blame for its absence.”
Elevaed pursued an initiative to have AEDs specified within the building codes, to have them specified for every elevator lobby, with 24/7 public access. It was denied by both coding authorities, and now must be addressed by other means for another three years (before re-introduction).