Public access defibrillation: Time to access the public

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Study objective: Public accessible automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are increasingly made available in highly frequented places, allowing coincidental bystanders to defibrillate with minimal delay if necessary. Although the public, as the largest and most readily available group of potential rescuers, is assigned a key role in this concept of "public" access defibrillation, it is unknown whether bystanders are actually sufficiently prepared. We therefore investigate knowledge and attitudes toward AEDs among the public. Methods: Standardized interviews were conducted at the Central Railway Station of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, a highly frequented and AED-equipped public place with a high number of travelers and visitors from all over the world. Results: Surveys from 1,018 participants from a total of 38 nations were analyzed, revealing a considerable lack of knowledge among the public. Less than half of participants (47%) would be willing to use an AED, and more than half (53%) were unable to recognize an AED. Overall, only a minority of individuals have sufficient knowledge and would be willing to use an AED. Differences between subgroups were identified, which may aid to tailor public information campaigns to specific target audiences. Conclusion: Only a minority of individuals demonstrate sufficient knowledge and willingness to operate an AED, suggesting that the public is not yet sufficiently prepared for the role it is destined for. Wide-scale public information campaigns are an important next step to exploit the lifesaving potential of public access defibrillation. © 2011 American College of Emergency Physicians.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-247
JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011

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