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Taiwan to install more AEDs in public to reduce deaths from heart attack

Educating people on where to find, how to use automated external defibrillators of utmost importance: experts

Automated external defibrillator (AED).

Automated external defibrillator (AED). (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is expected to boost the availability of automated external defibrillators (AED) after Taiwanese-Canadian actor Godfrey Gao's (高以翔) death by heart attack on television set brought the importance of first aid to the public's attention.

Taiwan already boasts the second-highest density of AEDs, which are used to save those suffering from life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW). Current laws stipulate that they should be installed at eight types of public places, including airports, High Speed Rail stations, high schools, universities, and major recreational venues, reported Liberty Times.

More of the portable electronic devices will be made available at borough-level community centers, frequently visited temples, and a number of elementary and junior high school campuses that are open to use by locals, according to Shih Chung-liang (石崇良), director-general of the MOHW's Department of Medical Affairs. According to CNA, this plan will be implemented next year.

While it is in people’s best interest to increase public access to AEDs, experts believe more efforts are needed to educate people on where to find and how to use the life-saving devices. In Taiwan, the usage rate of AEDs may be well below 5 percent, wrote CNA.

Only 10 percent of the approximately 20,000 patients who suffer cardiac arrest each year in Taiwan are resuscitated after arriving at the hospital, said Lin Hao-yang (林皓陽), an attending physician at National Taiwan University Hospital's Emergency Medicine Department. A heart attack victim's chances of survival increase by 50 percent if he or she is defibrillated or receives CPR right away, CNA quoted him as saying.