Defibrillators increasingly are being found outside hospitals, used to resuscitate people who have heart attacks in public places.

On the afternoon of March 16, an elderly man collapsed at Tochomae Station on the Oedo subway line in Tokyo’s Shinkuku Ward.

After seeing that the man had no pulse, Sadakazu Horiguchi, the 57-year-old assistant head of the station, called to a station worker: “Call 119. Bring the AED,” a reference to an automatic external defibrillator.

He immediately began giving the man cardiopulmonary respiration. When the defibrillator arrived, he stretched a pad across the man’s chest and told the crowd that had gathered: “Electroshock is needed. Please move away.”

The man’s body jerked from the shock. Horiguchi continued CPR and the man suddenly began breathing.

The ambulance arrived soon afterward and the 65-year-old man was taken to a hospital, where he recovered. The entire incident lasted only 10 minutes.

The subway got the portable defibrillator in January. Horiguchi took a seminar on life-saving techniques from the fire department and received additional training on using the defibrillator.

“I didn’t panic. Thanks to my training, I was able to do the job with a cool head. I (was so calm I) could even smell his breath,” Horiguchi said.

Once the heart stops, the survival rate decreases at a rate of 10 percent per minute. It takes on average of six minutes and 20 seconds for an ambulance to arrive.

Defibrillators are in wide use outside medical facilities in Europe and North America and, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, are as common as fire extinguishers in some places. At the end of February, only 524 nonmedical facilities in Japan, including government offices, airports and sports arenas, had defibrillators.

Hiroshi Hanaoka, who is in charge of marketing at Fukuda Denshi Co., a Tokyo-based medical machinery manufacturer, said the defibrillator is a key tool for saving lives.

“The (defibrillator) is a temporary measure before the arrival of an ambulance,” Hanaoka said. “First, please call 119.”

The defibrillator, which weighs about 2.5 kg, is easy to use, but Hanoaka said it was also imperative for people to use CPR.

“It is important for people at schools and in the workplace to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation,” he said.

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