An interactive online registry is giving emergency responders a closer look at the status and availability of life-saving medical technology in Nevada.

Called the Atrus National AED Registry, the program is a Web-based database that records where automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are located and updates owners with reminders on manufacturer recalls and battery expiration dates for the devices. Local government health organizations and private medical providers in Nevada are now using a customized version of the registry, spearheaded by Nevada Project Heartbeat (NPH).

NPH is a statewide public access defibrillation (PAD) program whose goal is to improve the survivability of sudden cardiac arrest. Nevada Project Heartbeat is providing an infrastructure that allows AED owners in the state to register their defibrillator for free in accordance with state law.

In March 2009, the Nevada Legislature enacted a law that requires the Health Division within Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services to create a database containing AED information and their locations throughout the state.

“The state of Nevada EMS office has supported Nevada Project Heartbeat since its inception,” said Patrick Irwin, Nevada’s EMS program manager in a statement. “The partnership has proved itself over and over again as AEDs have been distributed statewide and successfully used. This next step and partnership with Atrus supports the original intent of legislators in Nevada to track the use and readiness of AEDs across our great state without a cost to our taxpayers.”

In an interview with Government Technology, Michael Schwartz, vice president of Nevada Project Heartbeat and emergency medical services battalion chief for the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, said his organization looked at a number of ways to create a registry service, including going to AED manufacturers. But Schwartz said the manufacturers only had the ability to track their own products.

Ultimately it was the customizable ability that Atrus Inc., had built into its AED Registry that convinced NPH to use it as Nevada’s registry. Schwartz said that when a user goes into the database, it’ll look like the state’s and Nevada Project Heartbeat’s system, not the company’s. In addition, the data generated on AEDs would be specific to that region, not a generic report.

As more units are registered in the database, the status of each defibrillator is accessible in real time.

“Let’s say a bank has an AED unit and the bank closes at 4 p.m., and [access to] the AED is unavailable,” Schwartz said. “On the database, the AED goes from a green dot to an orange dot. Then the next morning when it becomes available for public use, it’ll go green again. So that’s really important when you’re going to the next step and tying this into public access [mobile] apps.”

The registry is free and open for anyone to register their AED units. But to gain access to the system’s compiled information, government agencies and health organizations need to subscribe to Atrus’ service. The company provides those subscribed users with a customized report on the AED units in the region.

Similar systems have been customized by Atrus for Minnesota and Orange County, Fla. Schwartz said various government agencies in the U.S. are logging their own AED units, but the National AED Registry has the added advantage of real-time information.

Practical Benefits

Aside from providing members of organizations such as NPH with detailed statistics on AED units, the registry also may help save lives.

Schwartz said that with public safety and emergency mobile applications such as the Fire Department CPR app developed by the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District in California beginning to take root with users, the logical next step is to combine AED locations into emergency response efforts.

Atrus has developed a system called AED Link that makes AED information in the registry available to 911 dispatchers so cellphone callers can be directed to an AED if someone is having a heart attack nearby.

“Technology is really starting to contribute to the first link in the chain of survival, and it’s exciting,” Schwartz said. “This is where governments can take ownership in tracking [AED units in] an entire region. Nevada is fortunate that we are going to be able to do the whole state. To say how many AEDs we have, where they are and if they are not in the right places, know where we can put them.”

Brian Heaton  |  Senior Writer

Brian Heaton is a senior writer for Government Technology. He primarily covers technology legislation and IT policy issues. Brian started his journalism career in 1998, covering sports and fitness for two trade publications based in Long Island, N.Y. He's also a member of the Professional Bowlers Association, and competes in regional tournaments throughout Northern California and Nevada.