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Circulation. 1998 Jun 2;97(21):2106-9.

Public locations of cardiac arrest. Implications for public access defibrillation.

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Seattle-King County Department of Public Health, University of Washington 98104, USA.



The purpose of this study was to describe the public locations of cardiac arrest and to estimate the annual incidence of cardiac arrest per site to determine optimal placement of automatic external defibrillators (AEDs). This was a retrospective cohort study.


Locations of cardiac arrest were abstracted from data collected by emergency medical service programs in Seattle and King County, Washington, from January 1, 1990, through December 31, 1994. Types of commercial and civic establishments were tallied and grouped into 23 location categories consistent with Standard Industrial Codes, and the number of sites within each location category was determined. With the addition of "public outdoors" and "automobiles" as categories, there were 25 location categories. During the study period, 7185 arrests occurred, 1130 (16%) of which were in public locations. An annual incidence of cardiac arrest per site was calculated. Ten location categories with 172 sites were identified as having a higher incidence of cardiac arrest (> or = .03 per year per site). Thirteen location categories had a lower incidence of arrest (< or = .01 per year per site). There were approximately 71,000 sites within these categories.


Placement of 276 AEDs in the 172 higher-incidence sites would have provided treatment for 134 cardiac arrest patients in a 5-year period, 60% of whom were in ventricular fibrillation. We estimate between 8 and 32 lives could be saved in 5 years. To cover the remaining 347 arrests occurring in public in a 5-year period, defibrillators would have to be placed in 71,000 sites, not including outdoors and automobiles. Placement of AEDs in public locations can be guided by the site-specific incidence of arrest.

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