Climbing a great peak like the world heritage of Japan is a feat to be most proud of. But the accomplishment means nothing if you don’t account for your health and safety at Mount Fuji during the climb.
A physically demanding activity, such as climbing Mt. Fuji — which is 3,776 m in height — can become dangerous fast without the proper precautions and training, especially for those with heart disease or a heart condition. And now, thanks to the collaborative efforts of Takekawa Co., Ltd., Goriki Co., Ltd. and Philips Electronics Japan as part of the Mt. Fuji Outdoor Safety Project, AEDs will be available on the mountain at key locations and also carried by Goriki guides on the lower trails.
What Is an AED?
An AED (automated external defibrillator) is a portable piece of medical equipment used to shock the heart and make it beat once again and/or come back into proper rhythm in the event of cardiac arrest. An AED is a small device with two electrode pads connected by wires to a main pack, which administer the shock when adhered to the body. These devices are designed to be light, durable and easy to use in a variety of climates and terrains.
When Are AEDs Used?
As previously stated, AEDs are most often used in an episode of cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is a sudden failure of the heart, which can occur immediately or a short time after symptoms begin. The symptoms of cardiac arrest are lack of pulse, collapse, loss of consciousness and a cessation of breathing. Beforehand, those who suffer from cardiac arrest may feel tired, weak, nauseous (possibly vomit), lightheaded or dizzy, have trouble breathing or experience a rapid heartbeat with or without chest pain. Someone who experiences cardiac arrest may or may not have been previously diagnosed with heart disease, which makes the availability of AEDs so important due to this condition’s unexpected and abrupt onset.
What can bring on an episode like this? Cardiac arrest isn’t the same as a heart attack — cardiac arrest is most often caused by an arrhythmia, otherwise known as an abnormal heart rhythm. A common type of arrhythmia associated with cardiac arrest is known as ventricular fibrillation, which is when there is a disruption in the flow of electrical impulses, causing rapid beats without blood flow within the heart, resulting in the heart failing. The electrical shock an AED provides can actually help restart the heart when this occurs, making it an invaluable health tool.
Those diagnosed with heart disease or a heart defect are at the greatest risk of experiencing cardiac arrest, but other risk factors, such as smoking, drinking in excess, a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, weight and family history can also pose a threat. If you’re an athlete, particularly someone who participates in endurance sports (marathon, triathlon, etc.), staying on top of your heart health is of utmost importance. Regular physicals can help you determine your risk for any type of heart issues, allowing you to be better prepared.
The Mount Fuji Outdoor Safety Project
According to the 2014 Safety Guideline for Climbing Mount Fuji, there were 364 medical emergencies reported between 2010 and 2014, resulting in 50 casualties. Having the proper equipment on hand, such as AEDs, can help prevent such devastating losses. Acting quickly is of the utmost importance, as the chance of survival can decline by up to 10 percent with each minute that passes following the cardiac arrest. It’s for this reason the AED must be used with five minutes of the onset to improve the patient’s chances for recovery.
The type of AED that will be available for the project to heighten the safety at Mount Fuji is the Philips HeartStart FRx, which was designed for use indoors as well as out and can sustain extreme temperature fluctuations, water, dust, being tossed in a bag or truck or even being dropped. This model can be used on all ages, from infants to the elderly. The HeartStart FRx, like many AED models today, comes equipped with simple-to-follow visual instructions, icons and audio guidance making it easy for anyone to use, regardless of language spoken or degree of medical training. This enables any local national or one of the increasing number of international visitors or residents to save a life now and during the big sporting events in 2020.
Once the device is on, you simply place the electrode pads on the chest according to the included diagram and then follow the prompts. The machine will measure the patient’s heart rhythm through the pads and then explain how to administer a shock, if one is required. An AED, like this one, may be used in conjunction with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to help get the heart beating again properly. The machine will instruct you on how to administer CPR until help arrives. When assisting someone who is experiencing cardiac arrest, make sure another member of your party calls for emergency medical assistance as soon as possible.
Where to Find an AED in Tokyo
The difference between life and death from cardiac arrest is, after all, quick action. With a consistent rise in tourism as well as an aging population, making AEDs available throughout Tokyo has become a top priority, which is where companies like Philips come in to help with the effort. You can now spot AEDs around town that are easily visible and accessible. AEDs are located at police stations (koban), convenience stores (konbini) like Seven-Eleven, cafes and on the bullet train (shinkansen). You can also find AEDs in one very unique place: vending machines. It’s no secret Tokyo is inundated with vending machines and now some are equipped with an AED right in the front for quick access in an emergency, whether it’s in an office building or on a crowded sidewalk during the morning commute. Just look for the red heart and the letters “AED.”
To heighten your safety at Mount Fuji on your next visit, be aware of the location of AEDs. If the need should arise, don’t be afraid to act. Also being aware of AEDs when you’re at work or traveling could help you save a life. These incredible devices may be small in size, but their potential impact couldn’t be greater.