In many municipalities of Drenthe, not everyone lives as close to an automatic external defibrillator (AED) as they ideally should, local broadcaster RTV Drenthe reports. This accessibility issue is less prevalent in densely populated areas like the Randstad, where AED placement is better organized. However, there’s a silver lining – Drenthe boasts a relatively higher number of volunteers willing to activate the defibrillator and respond to a cardiac arrest incident.
Data from HartslagNu, the nationwide system for resuscitation calls, reveals this disparity. The platform registers location data for over 25,800 AEDs across the country.
Uneven access to AEDs in Drenthe
The Heart Foundation recommends that an AED should be within a 500-meter radius. However, Drenthe and Friesland have the lowest coverage rates in the Netherlands, with about 20% of residents not having access to an AED within the stipulated range.
Assen has the best coverage within the province, while De Wolden and Borger-Odoorn fare the poorest. In these regions, one-third of the residents are not ensured an AED within 500 meters of their homes.
But what is an AED? It stands for Automatic External Defibrillator, a portable device that can restore heart rhythm during cardiac arrest. The sooner an AED is utilized, the higher the chances of survival.
AEDs are preferably operated by citizen first responders who are trained in CPR and have some experience with a defibrillator. They are registered with HartslagNu and can be called upon voluntarily during emergencies. Currently, there are approximately 235,000 such volunteers across the Netherlands.
How AEDs are used
For effective AED usage, a sufficient number of capable volunteers is crucial. In rural areas, predominantly in Drenthe, the HartslagNu system activates 60 volunteers residing within 2 kilometers of a defibrillator after a severe cardiac event. However, this target is often not met. In 60% of all Drenthe’s AEDs, at least 60 nearby registered volunteers are available for activation.
The differences between municipalities are vast. For instance, Meppel theoretically has enough volunteers for each AED, but in Westerveld, this is not the case for 30% of the cardiac arrest incidents.
‘Rural provinces’ like Groningen, Zeeland, and Friesland consistently lag behind in this aspect, while densely populated provinces almost always have sufficient citizen responders per AED.
Looking at these figures, one might assume that Drenthe residents experiencing cardiac arrest generally have to wait longer for a volunteer with an AED. However, this perception is misleading, and the turnout rate is the key factor. This rate indicates how many of the calls received positive responses from volunteers willing to respond to the incident.
In Drenthe, the turnout rate stands at an impressive 87%, placing the province in the middle range. Notably, this parameter surpasses that of provinces like North and South Holland with 80% and 77%, respectively. Within these provinces, Schiedam (63%), Amsterdam (64%), and Purmerend (70%) stand out with lowest rates.
On the other hand, Utrecht, Gelderland, Overijssel, and Limburg lead with a high success rate of 90% for all emergency calls.
One encouraging factor is the notable rise in participation. In 2019, Drenthe had a turnout rate of 62%, but this has experienced substantial growth, aligning with the pattern seen across the remaining eleven provinces. According to HartslagNu, this surge can be attributed to a rise in the number of citizen first responders, increased awareness of the initiative, and greater app usage.