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Ohio doctor creates app game to find local AEDs

He's enlisting high school students to play the game locate them all, and plans to create a master list for the region

By Cheryl Powell
Akron Beacon Journal

SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio — A local doctor wants to challenge area teens to help save lives by playing a game on their smartphones.

Dr. Terry A. Gordon is meeting with dozens of school superintendents, fire chiefs and police chiefs today at the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron to unveil plans to find all the automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, in Summit County.

The idea is to urge high school students to compete for prizes by using a smartphone game app under development to report the locations of AEDs throughout the community, Gordon said.

The information then could be loaded into a database, which emergency medical dispatchers could access to determine whether there’s an AED nearby when they receive a call about a potential cardiac crisis.

“Hopefully, it makes our community an even safer community,” Gordon said.

In recent years, the medical community has pushed for AEDs to be placed in a variety of public places, including schools. These “smart machines” assess a person’s heart rhythm and only administer a shock if needed to restore a normal heartbeat.

But no master list exists in the region to let emergency medical responders or well-intentioned citizens know exactly where those AEDs are located.

Gordon, a retired Akron cardiologist who championed the push to get AEDs in public places nationwide, has been leading the local effort to make sure people know the devices are available in emergency situations.

Gordon and the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA) are working with Akron-based software development firm Rubber City Wizards to develop an AED locator game app targeted at teens.

“The idea came out of a brainstorming session at ABIA when we were trying to figure out the problem of not knowing where these AEDs are,” said Dr. Vivek Narayan, director of program management and entrepreneurial education at the BioInnovation Institute.

The BioInnovation Institute is an effort by Akron’s three hospital systems, the Northeast Ohio Medical University and the University of Akron to work together to boost medical-related research and economic development and education while improving health care in the region.

Schools would be asked to encourage students to join the competition by downloading the free app, which would also include educational content about cardiac arrest, CPR and AEDs, Narayan said. Students would compete to capture the most territory in the game by reporting AED locations.

“If they find an AED, they basically take a selfie and note the position of the AED,” Narayan said.

Once confirmed, the AED locations could be shared with Atrus, a Florida-based company that provides registered AED locations to participating 911 dispatching systems through its AED Link system, Gordon said.

Atrus has contracts with 27 emergency medical systems in California, Florida, Minnesota, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Canada and the Cayman Islands to provide real-time information about unit locations that dispatchers can share with callers on the scene, said Elliot R. Fisch, the company’s cofounder, president and chief executive.

“When they go through their protocol, if that algorithm leads them to suspect there is a cardiac arrest, then our system will be notified and it will instantly query our registry if there is an AED within 1,200 feet,” he said. “If we find out, it will instantly pop up on their screen and they will be able to say, ‘I see there’s an AED.’ ”

The system also allows AED owners to register responders who are willing to receive a text message if there’s a potential cardiac arrest reported near their unit.

Summit County’s annual cost for the software license would be about $16,000, Fisch said.

The BioInnovation Institute plans to help Gordon secure grants and other funding for the project, which Narayan estimates would cost $100,000 to $150,000.

The program could be rolled out at high schools throughout the county as early as the 2014-15 school year, Gordon said.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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