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Original research
Real-world insight into public access defibrillator use over five years
  1. Hannah Torney1,2,
  2. Olibhéar McAlister1,2,
  3. Adam Harvey2,
  4. Amy Kernaghan1,2,
  5. Rebecca Funston2,
  6. Ben McCartney2,
  7. Laura Davis2,
  8. Raymond Bond1,
  9. David McEneaney3 and
  10. Jennifer Adgey4
  1. 1Ulster University, Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, UK
  2. 2HeartSine Technologies Ltd, Belfast, UK
  3. 3Cardiovascular Research Unit, Craigavon Area Hospital, Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Portadown, UK
  4. 4Belfast Heart Centre, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Hannah Torney; torney-h1{at}


Background Public access defibrillators (PADs) represent unique life-saving medical devices as they may be used by untrained lay rescuers. Collecting representative clinical data on these devices can be challenging. Here, we present results from a retrospective observational cohort study, describing real-world PAD utilisation over a 5-year period.

Methods Data were collected between October 2012 and October 2017. Responders voluntarily submitted electronic data downloaded from HeartSine PADs, and patient demographics and other details using a case report form in exchange for a replacement battery and electrode pack.

Results Data were collected for 977 patients (692 males, 70.8%; 255 females, 26.1%; 30 unknown, 3.1%). The mean age (SD) was 59 (18) years (range <1 year to 101 years). PAD usage occurred most commonly in homes (n=328, 33.6%), followed by public places (n=307, 31.4%) and medical facilities (n=128, 13.1%). Location was unknown in 40 (4.09%) events. Shocks were delivered to 354 patients. First shock success was 312 of 350 patients where it could be determined (89.1%, 95% CI 85.4% to 92.2%). Patients with reported response times ≤5 min were more likely to survive to hospital admission (89/296 (30.1%) vs 40/250 (16.0%), p<0.001). Response time was unknown for 431 events.

Conclusion This is the first study to report global PAD usage in voluntarily submitted, unselected real-world cases and demonstrates the real-world effectiveness of PADs, as confirmed by first shock success.

  • ventricular fibrillation
  • ventricular tachycardia
  • defibrillation
  • resuscitation

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors HT, OMA, RF, AH and BMC contributed to the research design. AK contributed to data entry. LD audited the dataset. OMA conducted the statistical analyses. HT was the primary author for the manuscript. AH, RB, DME and JA supervised the project. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the results and reviews and drafts of the manuscript. All authors approved the submitted manuscript.

  • Funding This research was funded by HeartSine Technologies Ltd.

  • Competing interests HT and OMA are employed by HeartSine Technologies Ltd and are PhD students at Ulster University. RB is employed by Ulster University. AH, AK, RF and BMC are employed by HeartSine Technologies Ltd. LD was employed by HeartSine Technologies Ltd at the time of data collection. JA is employed by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and is an unpaid member of the HeartSine Clinical Advisory Board. DME is employed by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust and is an unpaid member of the HeartSine Clinical Advisory Board.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study was reviewed by the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment Filter Committee, Ulster University, and was assigned the identification number "19.12-Torney, Hannah".

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request.

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