Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is the term given when the electrical impulses that regulate a person’s heartbeat suddenly change, causing the heart to fail. SCA is one of the leading causes of death in the UK and can happen to anyone at any time. With roughly 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happening each year in the UK – and with 20% of these occurring in public places – the need for easy-access automated external defibrillators (AEDs) has never been greater.
NOTE: the locations plotted on this map are approximations, showing only the general areas in which defibshop products have been distributed to, as a means of demonstrating the overall lack of AEDs in the UK. Always find your nearest public-access AED and note it down in case of emergency.
Immediate CPR and defibrillation increases an SCA victim’s chance of survival from 6% to 74%, and despite the fact that emergency services react as quickly as possible to SCA callouts, their average response time is 11 minutes, which is not enough time for a victim to receive proper treatment. This means that bystanders with proper training and proper equipment have the best chance at saving the life of an SCA sufferer.
What Does the Map Tell Us?
When we look at the map as a whole, it appears that the UK is well-serviced when it comes to AEDs. Viewing the overall distribution of defibshop products, it is easy to assume that, you would be able to reach an AED quickly in the event of an SCA, ensuring that the victim would receive essential treatment within the critical five-minute window. However, if you use the map functions to zoom into your city (or any city), and you will find that AEDs aren’t as densely distributed as they initially seem.
The data shows that, in terms of defibrillator density, central London is the safest place in the UK to suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, with readily available AED units positioned in key tourist areas such as Covent Garden, the City of London, Marylebone, and Whitechapel.
But when you leave the immediate centre of the capital, you find that AEDs become more and more sparse, with equally busy areas such as Peckham and Camden having access to very few AEDs.
Our data shows that if a sufferer were to fall victim to an SCA at the central point of Camden High Street, bystanders can expect to have to run to either end of the busy road to find the nearest defibrillator, which would take the average person roughly 10 minutes (five minutes each way).
Although Manchester city centre is significantly smaller than central London, it remains a popular tourist hub, with thousands of pedestrians passing through busy city-centre streets every day. Our data shows that despite the busy nature of these streets, an AED will still be out of range for a sufferer who isn’t fortunate enough to fall victim on the site of a public-access AED.
Similar to our Camden example, an SCA victim who suffers a cardiac arrest in the busy Piccadilly Gardens would have to be treated by a bystander who makes a four-minute run to the nearest AED (and then another four minutes back). Even running this distance isn’t enough time to treat the victim within the critical window, especially when the bystander would have to navigate through busy city streets.
The Scottish capital is much smaller in population size than both London and Manchester, with just 482,000 or so people living there. This, however, doesn’t reduce the risk of SCA for people who are based in the city. In fact, Scottish heart-health statistics show that 13% of the population is believed to be living with cardiovascular disease. Compare this with the 11% living with it in England, and is it evident that people who live in Edinburgh are at higher risk of SCA.
Our data shows that AEDs are most dense within the central area between Princes Street Gardens and Queen Street Gardens. This doesn’t mean that SCA victims are safe within this area, because depending on where they suffer the attack, the nearest AED could be a seven- or eight--minute run away (so, 16 minutes in total), which is well out of the critical window for treating SCA.
What Does the Heat Map Tell Us?
The heatmap demonstrates the AED density patterns in key areas within the UK. As the colours on the heatmap suggest, AEDs are most densely distributed within city-centre areas, with AED availability becoming less and less the further you travel from the centre of a city. Comparing heatmap data with data from the other map shows that UK city centres – although more dense with AEDs – remain dangerous locations for SCA victims.
More Can – and Should – Be Done for SCA Victims
The distribution data shows that even highly populated areas, where the risk of SCA are increased, have poor access to life-saving equipment. Knowing where your nearest AED is could mean the difference between life and death. If your office, school, or local community centre would benefit from the installation of a defibrillator, take a look at our product range and find the piece of kit that’s right for you.