Community wide scavenger hunt for AEDs begins

Community wide scavenger hunt for AEDs begins
AED (Source: UA Dept. of Emergency Medicine)
AED (Source: UA Dept. of Emergency Medicine)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Tucson Fire Department and the UA Department of Emergency Medicine have kicked off a community-wide scavenger hunt for life saving emergency defibrillators, called the HeartMap Tucson Challenge. The contest runs until September 30, with prizes ranging from $50 to $5,000; registration is open to both teams and individuals.

The idea of the hunt is to raise awareness about AEDs with the community and to build up a database of the AED locations.  According to Tucson Fire Department PIO more than 235 AEDs were registered on the first day.

AEDs are electronic and about the size of brief case, according to the release, and they allow bystanders to help someone who has collapsed during a cardiac arrest, prior to emergency crews arrival. Using an AED is shown to save lives - studies show those who are treated with an AED have a 30 percent better chance of survival.

These life-saving devices are generally located near schools, businesses, airports as well as sports clubs and shopping malls, according to Terence Valenzuela, MD and a professor in the UA Emergency Medicine program.  Most commonly they are found in a clear glass wall box, sometimes next to a fire extinguisher; the spot is often marked with the symbol of an electrical charge going through a heart shape.  According to the release there are 1.2 million AEDs in public use across the U.S. and 180,000 more are installed each year.

Many times the public cannot find where these AEDs are located and this is where the HeartMap challenge comes into play.  Participants will assist firefighters, and emergency physicians by reporting the locations of AEDs across the city and county.

"Our list of AED locations is definitely incomplete. We are seeking the public's help to learn where more of these devices are," said Dr. Valenzuela, in the release.  The 9-1-1 communications center dispatchers will use contest results to tell 9-1-1 callers the location of the nearest AED.

"HeartMap Tucson Challenge will help us improve care for victims of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest," said Dr. Valenzuela. "The results of this AED scavenger hunt in the Tucson area will be applied to scavenger hunts in other large cities in the United States. In the future, we will have a comprehensive record of AED locations throughout the country."

The contest is being held in collaboration with the University of Washington-Harborview Center for Prehospital Emergency Care, which is sponsoring similar contests across the country to build a national registry of AEDs. The location information in the registry will be updated periodically so that the public can receive accurate information about where these devices are at the time of cardiac arrest, says Graham Nichol, MD, director of the center.

Here are basic rules of the game:

-To participate in the contest, individuals or teams must complete the free registration online at


-The contest starts Wednesday, Sept. 3, and ends Tuesday, Sept. 30.

-When you locate an AED in the Tucson area, report a brief description of it on the contest website, including the building address for the AED, its location within the building, and whether the device appears to be ready for use.

For more on the scavenger hunt go online to

To follow the action and help spread the word about HeartMap Tucson, use #TucsonHeartMap and follow @cprnation @UAHealthNet and @TucsonFirePIO on Twitter. 

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