Staff at the University of Pennsylvania want to make it easier to spot automated external defibrillators – devices used to restart the heart after cardiac arrest – and they’re doing it with art.

The university launched the Penn Defibrillator Design Challenge to draw attention to the life-saving devices – a link in the chain of steps to treat cardiac arrest, which takes the lives of more than 401,000 people each year in the United States. The project includes a nationwide, online contest in which the public can create, submit and vote on virtual designs for eye-catching AED artwork.

American Heart Association president Dr. Mariell Jessup, who is a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, was on hand at the challenge kick-off event.

“As we kick-off February as American Heart Month, this new contest offers everyone the opportunity to learn more about the critical public health issue of cardiac arrest and most importantly, what we all can do to help those in need of medical attention during a cardiac arrest,” Jessup said.

The defibrillator design challenge builds on the success of the 2012 MyHeartMap Challenge, which used crowdsourcing to locate over 1,500 AEDs throughout Philadelphia. That challenge revealed difficulties in finding or noticing some AEDs. The university hopes their latest challenge, and the eye-catching art that ensues, will make the devices more noticeable.


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