One of Japan’s iconic theme parks, Fuji-Q Highland at Mount Fuji, is proactively protecting the health of visitors by installing the portable lifesaving devices known as AEDs.
When someone suddenly collapses, it’s a frightening scenario for everyone. That’s especially true when the heart is involved: sudden cardiac arrest is a common trigger in such scenarios for any ages. Knowing that help is close by in a busy and unfamiliar environment is reassuring.
This is why Fuji-Q Highland at Mount Fuji, the massive and popular amusement park near the foot of the mountain operated by Fuji Kyuko Co., Ltd., is taking a proactive approach to safeguarding the wellbeing of visitors. They are consulting with Philips Japan on the optimal placement and installation of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) on its grounds. AEDs are portable lifesaving devices used to diagnose the heart’s rhythm and then deliver an electric shock to restore it to normal functioning if necessary. They’re also simple to use—just start the AED, and the device talks you through the procedure—and yet many people still hesitate to get involved.
AEDs began appearing in Japan in 2004, typically in office buildings and public spaces, and there are now around 630,000 AEDs in Japan, or one unit per every 203 citizens in a population of approximately 128 million. Fire departments, Japanese Red Cross Society etc. are happy to provide training in how to use these devices, often at community events.
Philips has a great deal of expertise and sales performance in producing AEDs, and not long ago installed the 1.5-millionth unit of its HeartStart line to Fuji-Q Highland at Mount Fuji. On a rainy autumn afternoon, Philips Japan’s clinical specialist—who has worked as an EMT and paramedic in the United States and is also a licensed paramedic in Japan—scouted the vast amusement facility for suitable places to deploy the AEDs.
In a typical case of cardiac arrest, just how fast do park employees, family members, friends or bystanders have to help?
“The ideal time limit from when sudden cardiac arrest occurs to when the AED is deployed is five minutes,” he replies. “According to the data, the optimal time to reach the AED for one way is one minute. In terms of distance, we figure eighty meters to be safe. If it takes more than five minutes to use the AED and apply CPR, the person’s survival rate drops to less than fifty percent.”
After that, he adds, the survival rate goes down ten percent with every passing minute. “That’s why it’s so important that people know exactly where these devices are. If they have to hunt for them, it has a serious effect on the patient’s survival rate.”
According to him, however, the actual use of AEDs is still low in Japan—just four percent. “By that I mean a bystander who helps with AEDs after seeing someone collapse. So even though many places now have AEDs, few people know where they are or how to use them.”
Also notable is that most facilities like office buildings—even those with up to more than ten floors—have just a single AED, making it hard to provide aid within the recommended five-minute window. “Fuji-Q Highland is huge, we are proposing an installation plan for the ideal placement of AEDs” he notes. “That’s why I’m here today doing the evaluation.”
When assessing a venue, Philips Japan’s specialist has to keep several aspects in mind.
He says, generally, we have an activation system like 119 in Japan or 911 in the U.S. Also, in Fuji-Q’s case, we need the kind of the system is essential to alert park employees and help them for requiring aid as soon as possibole. “So I’ll suggest an emergency system for Fuji-Q’s employees to follow. My recommendations will be based on the AED guidelines and our experience.” He acknowledges that family members or other park visitors may also be willing to use an AED to provide aid.
Daisuke Naitou, a representative of Fuji Kyuko Co., Ltd, spoke about why the park decided to ramp up its emergency medical services by adding more AEDs.
“The Fuji-Q Highland area attracts about two million visitors annually. An increasingly large percentage of them are from overseas, especially during the spring, when they comprise from 30 to 40 percent of attendees,” he explains. Although large group visits still roll up in big tour buses, solo travelers and families are becoming more common.
Fuji-Q Highland at Mount Fuji already has a medical center onsite that takes care of visitors who suddenly become ill, Naitou says, and can also call in ambulances if the patient’s condition is serious. “We have one AED in the medical center, and we installed AEDs in Fujiyama museum and Fujiyama onsen about three years ago,” he notes. “Since five years ago, we also have begun having the fire department train for new employees in CPR and the use of AEDs. They must go through a required three-hour course.”
Asked why Fuji-Q chose Philips AEDs, Naitou says: “Their units are stylish, compact and easy for anyone to use. Since they’re also use
d internationally, people coming from overseas will be familiar with them. That makes a good impression.”
According to Naitou, we’re happy to expand the concepts of “proper placements of the AEDs” for other facilities in Japan by Fuji-Q Highland Trial. Also, His message for inbound visitors to Fuji-Q is simple and to the point. “We’re determined through this safety project to build the best medical system we can to support visitors to Fuji-Q Highland at Mount Fuji, and we’re happy to welcome more people from abroad and hope they feel safer, more relaxed, and make a good memory because of it.”