A BIG-HEARTED SCAVENGER HUNT

Graham Nichol, M.D., MPH, presents a check to members of Team HeartMarket — (left to right) Rebecca Bridge, Mike Pantoliano, Lara Petersburg and Ben Estes — the group that found the most AEDs in a scavenger hunt held in Seattle in November 2013.
Photo: Liz Hunter

Footwork was key to winning Seattle’s MyHeartMap scavenger hunt — footwork and organization. “We all work in marketing, and we’re pretty adept at spreadsheets,” says Rebecca Bridge. She is the leader of Team HeartMarket, the group that won the MyHeartMap challenge.

MyHeartMap was the brainchild of Graham Nichol, M.D., MPH, UW professor of medicine in general internal medicine and Medic One Foundation Chair for Pre-Hospital Emergency Care at UW Medicine, and Raina Merchant, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania. Their goal was to enlist the public to find as many automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in the city of Seattle as they could over the course of one month.

AEDs save lives when people suffer a cardiac arrest; they are often found in public areas and are intended to be used by bystanders. “We know from previous studies that if a layperson uses an AED to help a person in cardiac arrest before the paramedics arrive, the chances of survival double,” says Nichol.

While Seattle Fire Department staff track AEDs, they did not know where all the devices were located. A scavenger hunt, thought Nichol and Merchant, would bring in more information. At the outset of the MyHeartMap contest, staff knew the whereabouts of 350 AEDs in Seattle. Now, thanks to the efforts of 32 hard-working teams, Nichol’s colleagues are verifying the location and condition of approximately 1,000 of the devices.

The next step is to provide this information to the Fire Alarm Center and 9-1-1. Eventually, there may be an app that people can use to pinpoint AEDs in their vicinity.

What did it take for Team HeartMarket to win? Ceaseless effort during the lunch hour, after work and on weekends. In all, they found approximately 800 defibrillators. And they’re not stopping there; they’re using part of the prize money to develop a public service announcement on the value of installing AEDs in tall buildings. Bridge also notes that the team is buying AEDs for two non-profits serving low-income Seattle neighborhoods.

Nichol and Merchant count Seattle as a successful experiment, and they are already starting to work with other metropolitan areas, though Nichol isn’t revealing which ones. “I would prefer to maintain the suspense for now,” he says.

As for Bridge, she’s no longer hunting for defibrillators. But the instinct remains. “I still walk around and think, ‘maybe there’s an AED in there,’” she says, laughing.

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Want to purchase an AED for your organization? Contact aed@uw.edu for a list of AED manufacturers.

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