Study volunteers used a smart phone application to locate, photograph, and map more than 1400 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public places in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
While AEDs have become increasingly available in public places, including gyms, schools, office buildings, and retail shops, there is no centralized database of their locations, and their use in emergencies remains low, said Raina Merchant, MD, lead researcher of the study and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
More than 313 teams and individuals found AEDs in more than 500 buildings throughout Philadelphia. The buildings included gyms (19%), schools (16%), and offices (11%). Individuals or teams who located the most AEDs received monetary prizes. Researchers created the contest to investigate whether such "crowdsourcing" is a viable public health surveillance project.
The data collected will be used to create a new mobile app to help bystanders locate the nearest AED during emergencies and for 9-1-1 operators to direct bystanders to AEDs while paramedics are en route to the scene.