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Defibrillator alarm system wins top invention prize in France

An ingenious firefighter has invented a way to get the life-saving kit to cardiac-arrest victims more quickly

Defibrillator

Only around 1% of defibrillators are used in France because they cannot be found Pic: Kartouchken / Shutterstock

A system to set off an alarm and flashing light at public defibrillators to help people locate a device when needed has won this year’s top prize for invention in France’s Concours Lépine.

The system – called Géocoeur – was invented by firefighter and nurse Frédéric Leybold after he realised defibrillators near cardiac-arrest victims were rarely used and could save lives.

No training needed to save life

Only around 1% of defibrillators – devices that send an electric pulse or shock to the heart to restore a normal heartbeat or help a heart that has stopped beat again – are used in France. 

This is despite them being found in most communes after a drive to have them installed by mairies around 10 years ago.

They are entirely automatic and users do not need any training to use them.

Passers-by take kit to victim

Coralie Batista, the company’s project manager, told The Connexion: “When someone calls the emergency services with what might be a heart attack, the system can quickly locate the defibrillator closest to the site. 

“It then sends a signal which sounds an alarm, a flashing light, and a screen with the address of the victim in the form of a QR code.

“Usually, it takes at least 10 minutes for an ambulance to reach a site, and our tests show that people react to the signals and are usually ready with the defibrillator within the vital three-minute period after a heart stops.”

Trial success

A real-life trial of 30 Géocoeur boxes was launched in January in Moselle, and on the back of the prize win, another 20 more were placed in June.

“The trial shows the system works – that it is easy for the emergency centres to send out the alarm and that people react to it and are prepared to take the defibrillator to the address, getting there well before the ambulance,” said Ms Batista.

Marne department will be next, followed by a nationwide deployment in September.

The boxes will cost mairies €600 on top of the average price of €2,000 for the purchase and installation of defibrillators.

Contest attracts investment

The Concours Lépine is a French institution held each year in Paris. 

It has been running since 1901 and was the first to recognise the ballpoint pen and the steam iron.

It gives members of the public a chance to see groundbreaking products and ideas up close. 

For inventors, it can be a way of attracting investors to help with manufacturing and marketing. 

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