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Patient Care

The Heart-Safe City: Using AEDs and Data to Save Lives

What does it mean to be in a heart-safe city? As paramedics, we can say that time is an essential factor and a very thin line between life and death. Those who work in emergency medical services know ambulance transports may take longer than they should due to traffic congestion, caller inaccuracy, lack of manpower and other factors.

In the midst of the accelerating pace of life, changes in daily habits have had a catastrophic impact on human health around the world, such as poor diet, lack of physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption. According to the World Health Organization, these changes are the main cause of millions of people developing cardiovascular disease. Accordingly, many sectors around the world have developed new ideas to increase the level of emergency medical care, especially with regard to emergency cardiac conditions. Among these sectors is the health services program at the Royal Commission in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, represented by the Emergency Medical Services Department at the Royal Commission Hospital.

Making Jubail a Heart-Safe City

The number of out-of-hospital deaths caused by cardiac arrests is constantly increasing, inspiring Karsan Almakhalas, head of the Emergency Medical Services Department at the Royal Commission Hospital, to do some research. Using the hospital database and other studies, he determined the importance of this new project for the 450,000+ residents of the city of Jubail.

In the beginning of 2019, Almakhalas began planning with the EMS department to conduct several workshops to educate the public about the importance of AEDs, how to use them and how to perform CPR. An action plan was also developed in partnership with community and government agencies to complete the health awareness process. This campaign will continue until 2025 with two campaigns each year.

Considering the unique characteristics of Jubail, one of the largest industrial cities in the world, careful planning helped determine the most important places for the AEDs to be stationed, such as factories, schools, mosques, sports clubs and beaches. These were chosen based on population density and how it changed in mornings and evenings. Since receiving approval, the distribution of 50 AEDs began in the first quarter of 2020.

The Role of Research

Continuous monitoring and development based on the results of scientific research is the most important factor in improving the efficiency of any facet of healthcare. In conjunction with Almakhalas, we initiated a study in the beginning of 2020, aiming to compare the death rates before and after implementing the AED devices to develop community awareness in treating out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. The study also aims to identify what should be developed in this project, provided that the initial research will be published after the end of the first year of distribution of the last AED.

This project is the first of its kind in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and it's our hope to contribute to encouraging more communities around the world to implement systems that save lives and increase the availability of emergent care.

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