"Let's hope that we never have to use it, but, if the day arrives when we do, and it allows us to save a life, its installment is more than justified." These were the words of Andrés García, referring to the defibrillator recently installed in the entrance hall of his block, in the residential area of Cruz del Sur, Benalmádena.
"There are nearly 200 residents living here, many of them of an older age, and so we realised that it was a good idea to have a defibrillator because you never know what might happen," García said, reasoning the installment with convincing statistics. Sixty-five per cent of the almost 30,000 deaths caused by cardiac issues recorded in Spain happen in the home.
For several weeks now, this community of residents has been 'cardio-protected' by its semi-automatic external defibrillator, and this neighbourhood is not alone. More and more residential blocks are introducing this equipment to their properties, although there is still a long way to go.
According to statistics managed by the association of property administrators (Colegio de Administradores de Fincas de Málaga), 200 communities have become 'cardio-protected' since the contract signed by Procardio Healthcare in 2017, designed to promote the installation of defibrillators in residential buildings. The majority of these protected communities are on the western side of the Costa del Sol.
Before a defibrillator can be installed, an obligatory course must be taken to learn how to use the equipment. In the case of Cruz del Sur, three community caretakers and five residents of different nationalities who tend to spend a considerable amount of time at home have received basic life support training, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques and instructions on how to use the equipment.
"With eight people, we can rest assured that at least one will be able to get to the scene in the case of an emergency," said García.
This equipment comes with audio instructions in various languages in order to facilitate easy use in an emergency situation. "It's crucial that, in the case of an emergency, residents know who to turn to, because every minute lost significantly increases the probability of death," explained José Manuel Alcalá, manager of Meduba, a company that specialises in the 'cardio-protection' of public and now private spaces, in response to the increasing demand from residential areas for defibrillators.
The Spanish Heart Foundation (Fundación Española del Corazón) emphasises the need to act quickly in the incidence of a heart attack. Those at the scene should call 112, begin the process of resuscitation and call for somebody to fetch the nearest defibrillator, in order to deliver electric shocks to the person while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
The cost? 1,000 euros upwards, although in this particular case, the community has paid 1,600 euros, with the money also covering the cost of a device which automatically advises the emergency services as soon as the defibrillator cabinet is opened. The cost of the training and posters distributed throughout the residential complex, indicating the location of the equipment and instructing residents on who to call, is also included. As for maintenance of the defibrillators, the advantage is that they check themselves. You only have to remember to change the batteries and electrodes every two to four years.