Heart attack response system coming to Cayman

A new response service that will alert emergency dispatchers to the nearest defibrillator so heart attack victims can get quicker help will be launched next month.

The Cayman Islands government contracted Boca Raton, Florida-based Atrus, Inc. to provide its AED Link service to enhance the Cayman Islands’ response to sudden cardiac arrests.

The system works by providing the locations of the nearest automatic external defibrillators, which can restart a heart beat, to 911 dispatchers so they can guide callers to the closest AED if a person has sudden cardiac arrest. The system, which is expected to be available next month, will also instantly notify volunteer public responders affiliated with those AEDs to bring their defibrillator to the scene.

Dr. Sook Yin, medical director of the Cayman Heart Fund, said: “During a 911 cardiac arrest, call time is the critical determinant in the victim’s survival. By immediately identifying if one of these life-saving devices is available, we can direct someone to quickly retrieve and use it prior to the arrival of our EMS professionals. Having the ability to notify a person with an AED nearby gives us an additional response, which is especially important if there is only one bystander.”

The Cayman Heart Fund will provide a customised version of Atrus’ National AED Registry for defibrillator owners to register their devices into the system. The Cayman Heart AED Registry will be a free AED programme management service that will generate regular e-mail reminders for owners to periodically check the device to ensure it is in working order. Registered users will also receive reminders to replace electrode pads and batteries which are nearing expiration date, thus making sure the AEDs are in working order.

“Currently, publicly available AEDs are rarely used in an emergency because bystanders can’t see them and 911 dispatchers are unaware they are nearby. AED Link will identify the location of a registered defibrillator within 1,200 feet of a cardiac arrest victim during a call to 911,” said Atrus President and CEO Elliot Fisch.

Cayman Islands government’s Director of Public Safety Communications Brent Finster advised that “our current Emergency Medical Dispatch programme provides for our telecommunicators to ask specific questions to assist responding EMS personnel arrive at the patient’s location quickly and safely. In a cardiac arrest situation, we ask the caller if they have an AED nearby. Now, with AED Link, we will not only know exactly where the closest AED is located, but we will also be able to automatically notify a trained volunteer responder to go get their AED and bring it to the patient’s location. This will save lives.” Atrus’ AED Link is installed in systems in Minnesota, California, Florida and Canada.

Cayman Heart Fund Chairman David Dinner said that in addition to the critical advantages to public safety, organisations will benefit from updated sudden cardiac arrest and automatic external defibrillator information and automatic notifications that will ensure machines are maintained and comply with regulations.

It is estimated that about six million sudden cardiac deaths occur annually. A person’s chance of survival decreases by 10 per cent for each minute that response is delayed.

Automatic external defibrillators are designed to be used by lay people with little or no training, delivering a shock that can save a victim’s life before paramedics arrive.