The all-India project was launched for the first time in the country in Coimbatore

Philips Healthcare India and Rotary Club of Coimbatore have joined hands to launch a project to give the common man a chance to perform that life-saving act on persons who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest in those crucial moments before the arrival of an ambulance or professional medical care.

Defibrillation process

While most are aware of the CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) technique to revive a person who has suffered a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), most are not about the defibrillation process that involves giving an electric shock to bring back to normal the uncontrollably quivering heart (ventricular fibrillation).

This is because, while CPR is administered physically, defibrillation involves use of a device called defibrillator that is extensively used in hospitals.

An AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is a portable device that can be used on-site to generate an electric shock to the heart muscle to reverse the effects of ventricular fibrillation.

So far the use of the AED was restricted to hospitals and maybe a few airports and airlines. But, it is no longer so. Because, AEDs will become commonplace, in the true sense.

Philips and Rotary, under the ‘Save a Life’ project, installed AEDs in a few public places so that even a common man will be able to use it on a victim to revive his or her heart beat without having to wait till professional help arrived.

Launching the all-India project for the first time in the country in Coimbatore, Senior Director of Philips Healthcare India Jitesh Mathur said, AEDs would be installed at 10 public places as part of the launch.

“All the developed countries have AEDs in public places. But in India, except for a few airports, airlines and come companies, you can find AEDs only in hospitals. There are nearly six lakh people who are victims of sudden cardiac arrest in India every year. The survival rate is less than five per cent because immediate measures are not taken to revive the heart. To address this problem, our company has partnered with the Rotary Club of Coimbatore to bring the AEDs to the common man and give him the power to save a life,” he said.

J. Bala Venkat, project convenor and Chief Consultant Anaesthetist at Ganga Hospital, said, “Unless the heartbeat is revived within five to 10 minutes, the chances of survival are bleak. The AED is very compact and designed to be used by a layman. Once the equipment is switched on, a voice will give instructions. Only after assessing the heart beat will it decide whether to deliver the shock or not. So, the person using the AED does not have to make that decision too.”

Under Phase I, the Rotary Club has sponsored 10 units, to be installed at the Coimbatore Junction, three bus stands, Collectorate, Corporation office, Court, airport, and Regional Transport Office.

The company was also arranging for training some personnel, with the collaboration of professional medical bodies, where the AEDs were being installed under Phase I for better efficiency.

The Rotary office-bearers along with Jithesh Mathur presented the first AED equipment to District Collector M. Karunagaran for installing it at the Collectorate for the benefit of petitioners.

They also promised to provide training to the staff at the Collectorate for operating the equipment.

Later, the team visited the Coimbatore Junction, where the Salem Divisional Railway Manager Sujatha Jayaraj along with Additional Divisional Railway Manager P. Kalimuthu and Senior Divisional Commercial Manager D. Lakshmanan installed the equipment on platform number 2.

Two more equipment were installed on other platforms at the junction. The junction became the first railway station in the country to get the AED. Mr. Mathur said the project would be replicated in other places if it could find good partners.

Meeting

Later, at a meeting to explain sudden cardiac arrest and rescue measures, Rajpal K.Abaichand, Interventional Cardiologist at G.Kuppuswamy Naidu Memorial Hospital, said cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and AED were crucial because most of the deaths due to sudden cardiac arrest happened outside hospitals and taking medical assistance to public places was important in checking this.

Pointing out that the challenge lay in creating awareness among the public and training people to provide CPR and using AED, J. Balavenkat, project coordinator, said that the educational institutions, corporate houses and Government establishments should join hands in taking the project ahead.

S. Rajasabapathy, Director, Ganga Hospital, in his address pointed out that 40,000 lives were saved in the U.S. every year with the help of AEDs.

S. Rajashekaran, Chairman and Head of Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Ganga Hospital, said that what was important about the project was the shift in focus in providing medical intervention through community participation.

The challenge now lay in enabling people to use the AEDs to save lives.

Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Coimbatore, president R.R. Balasundaram, Rotary District (3201) Governor V. Rajkumar, president of Rotary Club of Coimbatore K.S. Balakrishnan, secretary Gurpreet Singh and Project Chairman N. Sundaravadivelu spoke on the significance of the project and how it would help save lives.

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