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Data-driven research helps put public access defibrillators where communities need them most

A community group campaigning for funds to increase the number of Public Access Defibrillators in their local community was able to secure the University of Edinburgh’s research expertise to help them reach their goal

Community in Action

Friends of Forth Valley First Responders is a Falkirk-based charity that supports the vital work of Forth Valley First Responders (FVFR), a group of volunteers trained by The Scottish Ambulance Service to attend 999 emergencies before the arrival of an ambulance. When the Friends saw an advert for Community Choices, a programme run by Falkirk Council and the Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership that gives local people access to public funding, they started to prepare a bid for the purchase of Public Access Defibrillators (PADs).

Saving lives

Each year in Scotland, around 3,200 people have resuscitation attempted after they suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). Currently only 10% of these people survive, but research by the University of Edinburgh’s Resuscitation Research Group (RRG) shows that prompt bystander action starting CPR and using a PAD can increase the odds of survival by up to three-fold. Knowing that PADs could make the difference between life or death, the Friends of FVFR approached the RRG for data that would support their funding application.

RRG have developed a mathematical model which visualises the level of risk of OHCA in any given community in Scotland and calculates the optimal locations for new PAD installations. In support of the Friends’ application, the RRG team produced maps for each of the nine Falkirk Council district wards that pinpointed where the planned 45 PADs would be most needed. The maps RRG provided were a critical component of the Friends’ funding bid and helped the application to succeed in securing £73,485.

Martin Stuart, Treasurer for Friends of Forth Valley First Responders, said:

Using data from the Resuscitation Research Group, and working with communities, the PADs will be installed in the most optimal locations in areas of highest risk. By placing PADs within the community and rolling out public familiarisation and awareness sessions in CPR and the use of PADs, we can provide the skills, confidence and equipment that will help save lives.”

Mapping out the future

In receipt of both funding and tailored research expertise, the Friends of Forth Valley First Responders are now able to install the 45 PADs in locations of greatest community need. RRG, meanwhile, have ambitious plans for their research. With funding and mentorship from the iTPA team at Edinburgh Innovations, as well as funding from the Laerdal Foundation, RRG are developing a dynamic web application called PADmap that will be continuously updated with OHCA data so that end-users can access accurate optimal PAD locations on-demand. RRG are confident that this evolution of PADmap will result in greater availability of PADs in high-risk OHCA areas and enable bystanders to save more lives.

Header Image credit: Getty Images Richard Johnson