By James Beckerman, MD, FACC
Millions of Americans will be traveling this week – some in search of sun, and others snow. And sadly, some people will experience injury or illness, or even worse. So this week I want to challenge you to do something that might save a life — maybe even yours — by joining other travelers to become an altruistic part of a crowdsourcing solution.
Crowdsourcing is a way people who don’t even know one another can solve problems together. Each individual can contribute to a solution by providing a small, unique part of the answer. All it takes is a smart phone and about a minute of your time.
The problem: Sudden cardiac arrest kills over 250,000 Americans every year; more than 95% of victims die before they reach the hospital. The definitive treatment for sudden cardiac arrest is defibrillation. But the risk of death or irreversible brain injury increases with every minute that passes before a bystander delivers that potentially lifesaving shock from an automated external defibrillator (AED). You might be able to access an AED quickly to help someone in a gym or school or in other familiar places. But what would you do if you were somewhere else? You’d call 911 and start CPR, but knowing where to find the nearest AED could significantly increase the likelihood of saving a life.
The solution: A group in the Netherlands has launched the website www.aed4.us as well as free iPhone and Android AED4 U.S. applications. This service enables you to add the location of any AED you see through either the website or via the GPS locator in your phone. By adding an AED location, you can contribute to an evolving worldwide map of AED locations along with thousands of other people. And by keeping the app on your phone, you will be able to locate the nearest AED if you find yourself in the position of needing to save a life. Even if you never need it, someone else will.
It can take a minute to save a life. Not a bad way to start off a vacation.
For more information about crowdsourcing your health, watch Lucien Engelen talk about this technology, and join Dr. Beckerman on Twitter @jamesbeckerman to continue the conversation.