Fri, Feb 01, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Lifesaving devices to be installed in

By Hu Chin-hui  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automatic external defibrillators (AED) will soon be installed in most public places, including on buses and the MRT and at train stations, airports, courts and tourist spots, the Department of Health announced on Tuesday.

Workers at these public places will be required to learn how to perform CPR and operate AEDs -- portable electronic devices that automatically diagnose the potentially life threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and tachycardia, and treat them through defibrillation, the department said.

Tsung Fu-chuan (曾富詮), a doctor at Taipei Hospital's Emergency Room, said that if a victim's heart stops beating, brain damage can occur after four minutes. After 10 minutes, the patient is likely to become brain dead, Tsung said. But if he or she is given CPR in a timely manner, cardiopulmonary functions can be maintained, Tsung said.

Bureau of Medical Affairs officials said sudden unconsciousness or cardiac arrest is often triggered by irregular ventricular fibrillation. Statistics show that if a patient receives an electric shock within one minute when such fibrillation occurs, there is a 90 percent chance that his or her heartbeat will return to normal. The percentage drops by 7 percent to 10 percent for every minute that passes without a shock being administered.

Liu Ming-hsun (劉明勳), the bureau's section chief, said that AEDs are commonly installed in public places in foreign countries, especially airports, casinos and large sports centers. Such life-saving devices are routinely installed in places where people may become nervous or overexcited, Liu said.

AED units, which are also known as "dummy defibrillators" because they are easy to operate, are priced between NT$120,000 and NT$200,000. Operators need only place the unit's patches around a patient's chest and follow simple directions as the device automatically diagnoses cardiac arrhythmias and treats them through defibrillation.

All fire trucks in Taiwan are equipped with AEDs.

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