It's time to put the "public" in public automated external defibrillators, from the Harvard Heart Letter

Published: May, 2011

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are the best — and often last — hope for people who collapse when their hearts lapse into a fast, irregular, and deadly heartbeat known as ventricular fibrillation. These shock-delivering devices are becoming a standard fixture in airports, malls, casinos, office buildings, and other public places. They are so easy to use, and the directions on them are so clear and straightforward, that school kids can learn to use them.

Yet when Dutch researchers asked 1,000 adults if they would use an AED if they saw someone suddenly collapse without a pulse, 53% said no. The most common reasons for declining to use an AED were not knowing how it works (69%) and worries about hurting the victim (14%).

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