Could 30th Street Station’s New Art Installation Save Lives?

The short answer: Yes.

AED art

Here’s a horrifying situation for you to consider: A stranger goes into cardiac arrest right in front of you while you’re waiting in line for coffee. What do you do? Chances are, you’d try to remember how to perform CPR from that babysitting class you took 15 years ago. But would you look around for the nearest automated external defibrillator to help save their life? Probably not. University of Pennsylvania’s Defibrillator Design Challenge wants to change that.

If you, like me, rely on ER reruns for the majority of your medical knowledge, here’s the lowdown AEDs: After someone goes into cardiac arrest, an AED is the only effective treatment for restoring a regular heart rhythm, according to The Red Cross. The really scary part? For every minute defibrillation is delayed, a person’s chance of survival is reduced by about 10 percent. And the average response time for first responders is between eight and twelves minutes, so you do the math.

The Defibrillator Design Challenge, which kicked off this past Thursday at 30th Street Station, is hoping to bring awareness to AEDs with the help of some eye-catching art. Here’s the idea: There are 1500 AEDs located across the city of Philadelphia (Some of you might remember the 2012 MyHeartMap Challenge, where folks found all of the AEDs throughout the city and helped to map them). The problem is, if you don’t know what they are, these life-saving devices are pretty easy to miss. And if no one notices them, they’re not going to save many lives. So, the folks over at Penn came up with the brilliant idea of surrounding the AEDs with art. This way, people passing by will stop to take a look, learn what an AED is and how to use it, and BOOM: These life-saving devices actually starts saving lives.

The online design contest allows designers from across the country to submit artwork. After March 6th, a panel of artists, sponsors, scholars and physicians will review entries, and with the help of the public’s vote, they’ll choose the winning designs. These winning pieces will go up around AEDs in public spaces. The image pictured above is a sample design being considered for an office building, to give you a taste of what to expect.

As Defibrillator Design Challenge Director Raina Merchant said in a press release, “Our decade-long vision is that this project improves AED awareness in communities, empowers bystanders, and ultimately improves cardiac arrest outcomes.”

So, if you’re passing through 30th Street Station, make sure to stop by the inaugural design challenge piece and get your AED education on. The next person whose life you save will thank you.

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