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Utah scavenger hunt is on for lifesaving devices

Published August 5, 2014 10:14 am

Safety • $5,000 is up for grabs in the search for defibrillators.
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One diligent person or team will win $5,000 at the end of August by winning a scavenger hunt to find and register the most emergency defibrillators in the Salt Lake Valley.

The HeartMap Challenge, sponsored by University of Utah Health Care and the Salt Lake City Fire Department, is a month-long scavenger hunt for all the devices in the area.

"These are highly portable electronic devices that a bystander could use to save the life of a victim of cardiac arrest, which is one of the most common causes of death in the United States," Scott Youngquist, a physician and professor of emergency medicine at the U., said Monday at a news conference kicking off the scavenger hunt.

Utah law requires buyers of automated external defibrillators (AED) to register them with emergency dispatch centers, but most never do. Typical buyers are businesses or institutions where people gather.

If an emergency dispatcher knows there is an AED nearby, Youngquist said, "they can direct the caller to grab the AED and save that victim's life prior to the arrival of EMS [emergency responders]."

Clair Baldwin, division chief of medical services for the fire department, said the chance of survival decreases by 10 percent every minute after cardiac arrest begins.

"If we can get an AED on the patient within one or two minutes," Baldwin said, "the survival rate goes up astronomically."

Youngquist said about 70 AEDs are registered in Salt Lake City, but there could be thousands of unregistered devices. Typically, they are in public places such as restaurants, shopping malls, golf courses and airports.

The portable devices are about the same size as a thick textbook or small briefcase. They are designed to be used by someone who has never seen a defibrillator. The device provides both written and voice instructions.

Those who want to participate in the scavenger hunt can register at https://heartmap.uwctc.org/contests/slc.

dmanley@sltrib.com

Twitter: @daniellekmanley