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WRaHD 2023: Heart doctors want AEDs in public places

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) which could lead to sudden cardiac death (SCD), is a global health threat that can happen to anyone when the heart’s electrical activity beats speedily and abruptly stops, according to doctor members of the Philippine Heart Association (PHA).

With this, Filipino heart experts are batting for the enactment of a law that mandates the government to place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) within easy access of the people including those in rural areas to dramatically decrease death from heart ailments notably SCA.

AED is described as a “sophisticated, yet easy-to-use, medical device that can analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.”

The PHA is the lead agency for the yearly observance of World Restart a Heart Day (WRaHD) which was highlighted by a monthly webinar dubbed Usapang Puso sa Puso (UPP).

UPP was held on October 18, followed by the Training of Trainers (TOT) on October 22 which gathers together 165 heart doctors and emergency responders from across the country. This year’s UPP WRaHD gathered law and heart experts and discussed the state of the (automated external defibrillator) AED Bills that have been filed in Congress and the Senate.

Dr. Don Robespierre Reyes, chair of the PHA Council on CPR, UPP host, and Dr. Francis Lavapie, past chair of the PHA Council on CPR, have been at the front lines of the eight-year-old CPR/AED- ReadyPH Campaign since day one.

“What is restart a heart day?  It is a day that reminds anyone the priceless value of knowing how to restart a heart that has stopped beating, and everyone can learn basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills and potentially save a life in the event of SCA,” PHA said.

The purpose of the day is to educate more people on what to do if someone collapses and stops breathing. Three of the most important, immediate steps to take are, calling 999, performing CPR, and using a defibrillator, if there is one nearby.

To prop up the campaign which has been revisited every October 16 each year for the last 10 years, organizations around the world have banded together, to raise public awareness about cardiac arrests, life-saving CPR, and AED.

In other countries, AEDs are always ready; gyms should have AEDs and know how to apply CPR. The survival rate is high. Unlike in the Philippines, AED and CPR are not that common. We don’t even have data on CPR,” Reyes lamented while underscoring the importance of having your own local CPR/AED data.

Citing the traffic situation of Metro Manila daily, Reyes said that apart from strategic placement, high-volume deployment is also a key factor

“The problem in Metro Manila is heavy traffic, so it should have lots of AEDs everywhere because the emergency response system is not yet okay,” Reyes noted.

        Basic & Advanced Cardiac Life Support Course at the 15th Training of Trainers held at                      Luxent Hotel, Timog, Quezon on October 21-22, 2023

Lavapie followed up this sentiment by illuminating just how pivotal a role AEDs play in the event of a cardiac emergency. “From the moment of SCA, if within less than five minutes CPR and AED, chances of survival are higher; more than 30 percent. Beyond that, chances of survival get smaller, and if more than 10 minutes then less than five percent chances of survival. So early administration of AED is crucial,” he said.

He also stressed that AEDs must be available not just in cities, but rural areas.

“Ang SCA, hindi lang nangyayari sa Manila or sa siyudad. So kapag gagawin ng batas, dapat para sa lahat hindi lang sa city.”

Sen. Lito Lapid and Rep. Bernadette Herrera who both filed bills on the importance of the placement of AEDs in public spaces and places, were represented by their legal officers, lawyers Abelardo Maglanque and John Paul Nabua.

Lapid filed SB 1324 which specifically mandates the placement of AEDs in in public spaces like government buildings, offices, courts, schools, public parks, and markets), while Herrera filed HB 1393 which endeavors the formation of a nationwide AED program and Emergency Medical System.

“Cardiac arrest is a time-sensitive emergency kaya, the sooner the response, the better the outcome. Survival and quality of life are priorities here. I had trips abroad and AEDs were very visible,” said Maglanque.

He also spoke of how collaborative efforts with the private sector that can offer their expertise and free training, the AED legislature has much better prospects in terms of implementation.

Nabua mentioned that part of Herrera’s rationale in drafting HB 1393 is “to increase survival rates through AED deployment in public places. But not just that, but with an entire system for emergency response as well.”

“As early as next year we are hoping maka-pasa sa first reading at least yung bill. If not passed within the 19th Congress, we would need to refile, then back to square one,” he stated, emphasizing that time is of the essence for the lifesaving bill.

The availability of AEDs is not common in the Philippines. One of the PHA’s dreams is to make AEDs readily available as fire extinguishers in public places and spaces.


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