Portable life-saving device vital to health in Hubei village

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An (automated external defibrillator) AED is a life-saving device for patients who experience sudden cardiac arrests. Sophisticated but easy to use, the device can be used to analyze heart rhythm and defibrillate the heart when needed. However, the device has not yet been made prevalent in rural medical facilities.

Tianbaoshan village, Shiyan city, Hubei province recently took a giant leap step towards the usage of AEDs. As the first stop of the AED Village Popularization Project, Tianbaoshan village welcomed health experts to instruct its residents on emergency first-aid practices.

As Wu Yongzhong, party secretary of Tianbaoshan Village, explains, “AED operation is very simple. Anyone who understands Mandarin can learn it.” According to Wu, most villagers comprehended the first-aid knowledge from the tutorial very well.

After the first-aid training, Xie Daji, a village doctor, told reporters that in the past the mountainous terrain posed tremendous challenges for medical care in the village. Medical care could not arrive on time when there were emergencies. Xie also described how medical capacity in the village has been gradually improving. After 2018, with new roads, the village became more accessible. Then oxygen devices, simple respirators, and other equipment were brought to the village. Now with AEDs installed, he feels a lot more confident in treating patients.

First aid as foundation

Du Chengfen, head of the training team at Shiyan city First Aid Center, said without proper training on CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and other first-aid techniques, AED itself would not be very useful. When Du was conducting first-aid training in rural regions, she found most residents had no prior knowledge of first aid. Residents in rural regions did not seem to be prepared for accidents. Some residents were even expressed the belief that talking about cardiac diseases could bring about bad luck.

To promote first-aid training, Liu Jiamin, director at Shiyan city First-Aid Center, and his colleagues thought of many strategies. One of them was to appeal to credibility. Jiang Shi’e, a nurse at the emergency station of Dianzi County Central Health Clinic, Shiyan city, was widely praised on the internet for fighting the epidemic last year; this had made her being deeply trusted by local villagers. Therefore, the first-aid center in Shiyan city asked her to give a demonstration for first-aid training in Tianbaoshan as it would help appealing to the audience.

Du Chengfen also put forward a proposal to prioritize certain groups of personnel for first-aid training in rural areas. Starting with doctors, teachers, village cadres, military personnel, and relatively well-educated villagers, she aims to create a ripple effect with the first line of trainees teaching what they have learnt to their students and families.

Towards full coverage

Liu Jiamin said for equipping all of the 1,868 village clinics in Shiyan city with AEDs, government support is only the first step; and mobilizing other sectors in society is the key. For instance, the business sector has contributed to the process of installing more AEDs in rural villages: the two AED devices donated to Tianbaoshan came from a company – Shangyaokeyuan Medicine.

According to Liu Jiamin, “We have provided ambulances for health centers in villages, gradually promoted AED popularization and strengthened first-aid training to continuously improve medical capacity in rural regions.” Liu Jiamin also explained that after a pilot demonstration was carried out in Dianzi Town, Yunxi County, AED installation has gradually become prevalent in the villages. There is a plan to attain full coverage by 2025.