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Acting quickly and saving lives through a country-wide six-minute zone

13 Nov 2017
Turning the Netherlands into a six-minute zone within the next year: that is the goal of the Dutch Heart Foundation. An ambitious objective that requires quite some guidance, which M3 Consultancy is happy to provide. In this blog, we would like to share some details on this comprehensive, challenging, yet rewarding project.

What is a six-minute zone?

When a person has a cardiac arrest, an adequate response is of the utmost importance. If such an event occurs in a public place, bystanders are usually quick to call emergency services. However, it takes the average ambulance ten to fifteen minutes to arrive, which is much too long – by then, ambulance staff will likely confirm brain death, or the victim will have passed away.

In many cases, this turns out to be a time issue: research points out that the chance of survival is significant if resuscitation is started and an AED is used within six minutes. Therefore, the Dutch Heart Foundation and several other parties have joined forces to realize a six-minute zone covering the entire country. When the system comes into effect, emergency services employees will be able to press a button after receiving a call about a cardiac arrest. An alert will be sent to multiple civilian emergency responders – all certified resuscitators – who are within close distance and can reach the victim within six minutes. At the same time, another group of people in close proximity will be informed of the nearest AED location, so they can pick up an AED and provide the victim with additional assistance. All this is meant to achieve one goal: save more lives.

Requirements: database and geographical coverage

To realize a country-wide six-minute zone, several requirements should be met. One of these is to set up an integrated database, incorporating GPS data on both civilian emergency responders and AED locations. Currently, there are two separate databases, which make things unnecessarily complex. After all, having two competing systems is not efficient in life-or-death situations. The good news is that by mid-next year, these systems will have joined forces and there will be one nationwide system.

Another important goal is to find enough civilian emergency responders in all geographic regions. Moreover, sufficient AED locations are required to create a close-knit network that contributes considerably to the setup of an effective six-minute zone.

Objective: adequate assistance everywhere within one year

By the end of next year, at least ninety percent of The Netherlands should be a six-minute zone at the four-digit postal code level. This means that in principle, anyone who has a cardiac arrest in a public place should get assistance within six minutes after someone calls emergency services – regardless of the neighborhood that he or she is in.

The Dutch Heart Foundation started this program a few years ago. A lot has already been accomplished. For example, there are currently as much as 170,000 civilian emergency responders. The next step is to have sufficient AED locations. Since August 2017, M3 Consultancy has been supporting the Dutch Heart Foundation by taking on project management. The organization has devoted years to this project, but has called on us because it requires additional thinking power and guidance to meet its time-sensitive goal. Especially the big cities, such as The Hague and Rotterdam, still need a lot of work in terms of finding enough volunteers and locations that want to participate in the project. Although a challenging task, we are confident that the objective can be met, and we will commit ourselves to it wholeheartedly!

Would you like to read more about the six-minute-zone project? Please have a look at the website of the Dutch Heart Foundation or Heartsafe Living.

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