AED installation at public places to be expanded in Taiwan

12/01/2019 06:04 PM
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Taipei, Dec. 1 (CNA) The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) is considering installing automated external defibrillators (AED) at more public places across Taiwan, including temples, to reduce fatalities induced by sudden cardiac arrest, a senior health official has said.

Shih Chung-liang (石崇良), director-general of the MOHW's Department of Medical Affairs, said in an interview with CNA that AEDs are now installed in eight types of public venues where people gather, including transportation hubs and tourist attractions.

They also include high schools; college and university campuses; big assembly sites; leisure areas that attract at least 3,000 people a day; big shopping malls; and hotels and hot spring areas.

Now the measure is being reviewed, with the MOHW mulling the feasibility of expanding the installation of AEDs to other places where crowds congregate, such as popular temples, community centers, and junior high and elementary schools, Shih said.

The review came in the wake of the death of Canadian-Taiwanese actor Godfrey Gao (高以翔), who died at the age of 35 after he collapsed while participating in a reality show in China on Wednesday.

Gao reportedly collapsed and his heart stopped beating for several minutes before someone performed CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on him.

He was then rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency treatment for almost three hours, but doctors were unable to resuscitate him and he was officially pronounced dead, according to JetStar, his agency.

The incident sparked discussion about unexpected death caused by cardiac arrest.

Lin Hao-yang (林皓陽), an attending physician with the Emergency Medicine Department of National Taiwan University Hospital's Yunlin Branch, told CNA that of the 20,000 people a year in Taiwan who suffer cardiac arrest and then are taken to a hospital, only 10 percent are resuscitated.

Based on American and European studies, he said, when someone collapses suddenly, the chance of keeping the person alive can climb to over 50 percent if CPR is performed and an AED device is used in time.

The AED is a portable electronic device used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. It can analyze the heart's rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.

Sudden cardiac arrest is among the leading causes of death in the United States, according to the American Red Cross.

AEDs are "a ray of hope" for people who experience arrhythmia or sudden cardiac arrest at a public place, Lin said, noting that most such cases are related to ventricular fibrillation, which is when the heart quivers instead of pumps due to faulty electrical activity in the ventricles.

In that condition, "the heart can no longer pump blood to vital organs of the body, and eventually the heartbeat stops, leading to death," Lin explained.

He urged those who have received first-aid training not to hesitate to perform CPR on people who suddenly collapse on the side of the road, and to try to acquire an AED while calling 119 for help.

The machine can help diagnose if an electronic shock is needed in an emergency, he said.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Elizabeth Hsu)


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