The Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus and the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions' East Baltimore campus have initiated a comprehensive, automated external defibrillator program. The heart-saving project, believed to be the first of its kind at a higher-learning institution, will include nonpatient-care buildings and most high-traffic areas. When complete, the initiative will place more than 60 defibrillators within the medical center and university locations occupied by more than 600 people, such as laboratories, auditoriums, residence halls, gymnasiums, parking garages and cafeterias.
An automated external defibrillator, or AED, is a portable, easy-to-use device that delivers a life-saving electric shock to the heart to halt rapid and chaotic heart activity or reverse sudden cardiac arrest and restore a normal heartbeat.
According to a study and editorial published in the Oct. 17 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, cardiac arrest continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States, striking approximately 250,000 adults annually. The editorial concludes that about 95 percent of those suffering cardiac arrest die before reaching the hospital, but people have an improved chance of surviving if they undergo defibrillation within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest.
According to Edward J. Bernacki, chairman of the Joint Committee for Health, Safety and Environment of the university and hospital, most medical institutions have a trained cardiac response team to assist patients or others in inpatient buildings and outpatient centers. Such a team has been in place for many years at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in East Baltimore but not at other Hopkins facilities.
"Generally, response time by teams averages eight to 15 minutes, but after five minutes a person's survival rate is only 40 percent, and after 10 minutes the person has only a 5 percent chance of survival," said Bernacki. "The AEDs, which are easy to use, particularly by someone who is not a professional rescuer, may help reduce these times and can save many lives."
Bernacki said that Hopkins plans to train three individuals to use each AED and to equip mobile Hopkins security units with the defibrillators so they can serve areas where devices are not permanently located. Currently, 50 members of the Security force and eight staff members of the Athletic Center at the Homewood campus have completed special training with the defibrillators. Hopkins will begin training the Security staff on the East Baltimore campus in November.