Safety by the Numbers

Would you rather jump out of an airplane, play golf in a lightning storm or swim with sharks? Turns out they all have extremely low chances of death as compared to some of the more common everyday activities. There are less than 100 deaths annually from skydiving, about 50 or so deaths from lightning and less than 10 world-wide shark deaths every year.

So, those may be considered 'high-risk' activities by many, and those engaged in them should certainly know that, but what about driving down the road or just being in the wrong-place at the wrong-time where a gunman is on a rampage? By sheer numbers, both are considerably more dangerous than those 'high-risk' events and have fatalities of just over 30,000 per year. Even with all the traffic laws and seat-belt use at historically high marks, traffic fatalities are about the same as death by gunfire. I won't get in to the gun laws here, but I would submit that a few changes in that arena would drive those numbers lower.

OK, both traffic accidents and gun-fire could both be put into the bucket of wrong-place, wrong-time, but how about the battle against the most common cancers. Driven mostly by the smoking epidemic in the US, Lung Cancer is the clear leader among the cancers at 157,000 US deaths a year on average. Colon cancer is a distant second at 50,000, followed by Breast cancer @ 40,000, Pancreatic cancer @ 38,000, Prostate cancer @ 34,000 and Leukemia @ 22,000. Some of these may be avoidable with life-style changes, but the family genes are also a big player in the world of cancer. Prevention can be tough, diagnosis is difficult and treatment is commonly a lifetime effort.

So far, some of these categories have a more direct relationship to a Safety conscious behavior than others. For example, the safer you are driving your car, the better chance to avoid a life threatening accident. The same may not be said for Breast or Prostate cancer. Those are mainly bad genes and bad luck.

But what about heart health? Is that just bad luck or can a safety mindset help?

If you add up all the deaths from the top 6 cancer killers, you begin to get close to the deaths caused by Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and Heart Disease in the US. Over 300,000 people die each year from Sudden Cardiac Arrest and Heart disease. While the on-set of heart disease has a good bit to do with bad genes, proper life-style habits play a big role and having a safety mindset can prevent a HUGE amount of those deaths. Looking deeper in to those numbers:

* Greater than 300,000 Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OOHCA) events happen each year
* Overall survival rate is running around 5-8%
* When CPR is given and an AED is used, survival rates jump to above 50% on average
* 1/3 of OOHCAs receive CPR
* Less than 3.5% have an AED applied

So, the numbers are gi-normous and scary. Luck and genes certainly play a role in outcomes. However, a safety strategy that trains for CPR knowledge and promotes an AED program would clearly save tens or thousands of lives if implemented to scale. Until that 'scale' happens, what can you do? The solution is easy, train your staff on CPR and AED use and get an AED program going at your office. While there's certainly a whole host of reasons for protecting your workers, customers, guests, family etc., probably the best reason is, 'it is simply the right thing to do'.

Do you wear your seatbelt? Of course, we all do. It's easy to do and it makes perfect sense. You are 10 X more likely to suffer SCA than be a traffic fatality. Do you have an AED at work (gym, school, club, park, church etc.)? Don't be a statistic...make a difference today and start to move the needle on SCA survival.

Submitted by
Brian Duffield

Brian is on a mission. With one of the 5% who survive an OOHCA, Brian is trying to impact the public market, one AED at a time. He works for HeartSine Technologies, a global leader in Public Access Defibrillators, and can be reached at

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