Representational image
Representational image
Photo: AFP

JERUSALEM: Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are being installed at payphones, lottery stalls, and other public locations around Israel.

In collaboration with other municipalities and organizations, Israel's national emergency service Magen David Adom (MDA), is promoting the placement of defibrillators as many as possible in public areas.

AEDs on the streets can, in some cases, make the difference between life and death. When a person has a sudden heart attack, every minute is crucial, and defibrillators could provide some extra time until the rescue team arrives.

The AEDs are designed for utilization by untrained individuals so that anyone on the street could potentially be a lifesaver by just pushing a button on the device. The button activates an electrical shock to stabilize the heart rhythm of the person in need.

MDA's dispatch center is able to coordinate callers with the closest public defibrillator while giving instructions on how to operate the AED until professionals come to the scene of an emergency.

"Once people have a severe heart attack, they collapse into unconsciousness," said Yonatan Yagodovsky, director of the international department at MDA.

AEDs are programmed to automatically detect whether the patient connected to the device is suffering from a cardiac arrest event that would require the machine's intervention.

"Only a few minutes can determine whether there will be a hopefully positive outcome, or a person with a heart attack would not survive," stressed Yagodovsky.

Only if the victim requires an electrical shock, the AED will permit this procedure.

On June 14, MDA announced a new cooperation with Israel's national lottery Mifal HaPayis to place 600 AEDs at lottery booths in crowded areas. Mifal HaPayis will fully fund the project.

Lottery booths are spread out on main streets all over Israel, which makes them convenient places to install defibrillators.

Avigdor Yitzhaki, chairperson of Mifal HaPayis, said that the purpose of the initiative is to enable immediate primary care in urban areas since the most common cause of death in Israel is cardiac arrest.

Last week, MDA also announced another collaboration with Israel's telecom giant Bezeq whose payphones are placed all over the streets of Israel.

The plan is to convert thousands of public phones into defibrillator stations, which is a win-win situation for both MDA and Bezeq as MDA seeks places for AEDs, and Bezeq wants to get rid of old phone booths that require maintenance.

"There are about 9,500 telephone booths with almost no use across the country. We came up with this unique solution," Guy Hadass, vice president of communications at Bezeq, told Xinhua.

The intense distribution of AEDs became feasible as their cost has been reduced more than seven times since MDA implemented the devices in their ambulances in the early 80s, said Yagodovsky.

Moreover, smart technology enables MDA to check the status of each AED remotely to make sure that it functions properly and has charged batteries to operate the life-saving procedures.

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