MTR gives heart attack victims a fighting chance

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 October, 2011, 12:00am
 

Passengers who have heart attacks in the city's subway system will have a better chance of survival from tomorrow when every station will be equipped with defibrillators and employees trained to use them.

The MTR's 237 new life-saving devices, or automated external defibrillators, will be distributed throughout the network's 84 stations.

The Fire Services Department trained the MTR Corp's 750 managers in cardio pulmonary resuscitation and in the correct use of defibrillators. The devices cost a total of HK$3.5 million.

Shum Kwok-leung, acting deputy chief ambulance officer with the Fire Services Department, said: '[Defibrillator technology] is already very mature and accurate. It can be helpful [in reviving the heartbeat] in emergencies', but it must be used in conjunction with CPR. Shum said a quick response was vital: for every minute that elapses after a heart attack, the victim's chance of recovery drops by 7 per cent to 10 per cent.

In October last year, the MTR equipped 10 of the city's busiest stations - including Kowloon Tong and Mong Kok - with defibrillators in a trial to assess their need.

The defibrillators were used three times in the past year - twice in Lo Wu station in June and July, and once in Causeway Bay station. Two ere revived when given electrical shocks through the defibrillators. In the third case, the defibrillator's internal monitoring device indicated electrical shock was unnecessary, and the victim was taken to hospital.

Automated external defibrillators can analyse a person's heart rhythm and administer an electrical shock to restore a normal beat if needed. A user applies two electrode pads to the patient's chest, and the device provides step-by-step instructions through voice prompts. The MTR bought models that are automatic, making them easy to use for people with only basic training.

Each one weighs about 2kg and costs HK$10,000 to HK$20,000. They will be available at customer service centres or platform booths.

Senior MTR manager Ivan Lai Ching-kai said most stations would have at least two defibrillators.

The government was criticised in 2009 for moving too slowly on installing defibrillators in public buildings and at the airport. Lawmakers argued that such venues have large flows of people, so should have good emergency equipment. Defibrillators are widely used and available in public facilities in many countries around the world. Some restaurant and bar operators in Lan Kwai Fong have had defibrillators on hand since 2007.

24,400

people in Hong Kong received CPR training with the Fire Services Department last year

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