Israel’s public phone booths are being converted into lifesaving public access defibrillator stations, as part of a new national collaboration between the country’s main phone company and its ambulance service.
This is the first time such an endeavor of converting redundant public phone booths into lifesaving devices has been done on a national level, according to Magen David Adom emergency services.
“The concept of repurposing phone booths exists elsewhere in the world. There are also a few cities that have changed public phone booths into homes for public access defibrillators as we’re doing. But no one has done so on a national level. We’ve taken the idea up a level and thanks to Israel’s compact size and leading technology capabilities, this lifesaving project will stretch across the country, from Dan to Eilat, and be connected to the national emergency services, Magen David Adom (MDA),” the MDA project leader of the MDA-Bezeq Israel Telecom collaboration, who requested anonymity due to his military ties, tells NoCamels.
Research shows that people are more likely to survive a cardiac arrest if a bystander uses a defibrillator, a device that sends an electric shock to the heart to potentially restore a normal heartbreat, while waiting for emergency medical services to arrive.
In the US, medical experts estimate that some 18,000 Americans have a shockable cardiac arrest in public with witnesses.
“The earlier an electric shock is given to someone in cardiac arrest, the better chances of survival. Bystanders have the potential to save a life. The first few minutes are critical. Any passerby can call emergency services and then use the defibrillator, even without any medical knowledge until emergency services arrive,” says the MDA project coordinator.
For Bezeq, repurposing its rarely used public phone booths was a no-brainer. The phone company donated the rarely used pay phone booths to the project.