According to an article by Alice Dordenker in The Japan Times, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are now available in vending machines across Japan. “This interesting innovation is just one of the ways in which Japan is leading the world in AED deployment, after years of being far behind,” she says.
Her report states that AED placement is increasing rapidly in Japan, ever since rules were changed in July 2004 to allow laypersons to use AEDs. About 45,000 AEDs were placed in Japan in 2006, according to cardiologist Dr. Hideo Mitamura, AED advocate.
According to Dordenker, “A number of tragedies occurred before Japan brought its laws into line with international recommendations by allowing public access to AEDs. The most publicized was the death of Prince Takamado, a member of the Imperial family who collapsed in September 2002 while playing squash. Although an ambulance arrived within eight minutes, paramedics were too late to resuscitate the prince.”
Placing the AED in a vending machine, says Dordenker, means people are more likely to learn its location and be able to get it quickly in case of an emergency. It also saves space to put the AED into the vending machine rather than having a separate storage cabinet. Unlike other vending machine items, use of the AED is free. At the same time, there is an alarm to discourage theft.
Laypersons in Japan are not required to have training to use AEDs, although free training is available at fire stations.