DENVER, May 10, 2013 – Social media may hold the key to improving outcomes of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) emergencies, which claim more than 350,000 lives in the United States (U.S.) each year. A new initiative to build a geolocated automated external defibrillator (AED) database through crowdsourcing may be a low cost, high impact concept to help the public find an AED in an emergency. Findings from the pilot study were revealed today at Heart Rhythm 2013, the Heart Rhythm Society’s 34th Annual Scientific Sessions.

Ninety-five percent of those who experience SCA die because they do not receive life-saving defibrillation within four to six minutes, before brain and permanent death start to occur. Public access of AEDs can play a significant role in the resuscitation of a person who has fallen victim to SCA outside the hospital. While many public places including hotels, airports and office buildings may have an AED, it is often difficult to know exactly where the closest one is in an emergency. The new pilot project demonstrates that creating a sustainable, cost-effective geolocated AED database is possible, thanks to social media technology, crowdsourcing and the use of gamification–using game techniques and design for non-game problems.

“The primary reason sudden cardiac deaths have stayed stagnant in recent years is because the solution does not lie with health care providers, but rather with the public,” said Nadine Levick, MD, MPH, founder and lead developer of the iRescU Project, a project of the EMS Safety Foundation. “The iRescU project is designed to empower bystanders to help someone experiencing cardiac arrest by bridging existing gaps identified in the chain of survival. A feature of the project is to help bystanders and emergency services quickly locate an AED in the area. That one action could ultimately help save a life.”

The iRescU project conducted four AED crowdsourcing contests launched from different medical conferences from November 2011 to November 2012. In addition to on-site conference promotion and social media strategies including Facebook, Twitter and listserv email announcements, eTags were used as data entry tools on promotional items such as t-shirts and baseball caps. Participants were encouraged to locate an AED in their community and upload the location information to the iRescU database, via the web, email and use of mobile devices. Specific details about the AED location including the street, building location, city, state and country were included, as well as an optional photo graph. In each contest, an AED was awarded to the individual, or team, who uploaded the most AEDs to the database.

Overall the four crowdsourcing contests have located 1,704 AEDs across the world. Participants ranged from members of the medical community and SCA survivors to a classroom of fifth grade students who took the contest on as a class project. Each contest costs less than $450 to administer, which brings cost per located AED in this study to around $1 per device.

The database is still in development and the public can upload AEDs as part of iRescU’s current contest by locating an AED and uploading information to, or directly with use of the eTag and a mobile device.

The iRescU Project is made up of a global, interdisciplinary team and
two of the U.S. Cardiology collaborators are Nicholas Skipitaris, MD, FHRS, from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, New York, and Dmitry Nemirovsky, MD, from Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New Jersey.

Source: HRS.