ATMs and coffee shops — such as Tim Hortons, Starbucks, and Second Cup — make ideal locations for placing life-saving automated external defibrillators (AEDs), according to research led by University of Toronto Engineering Professor Timothy Chan, in collaboration with Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital.

When a patient suffers cardiac arrest, every second counts. Chances of survival decrease by 10 percent each minute. Responding quickly can be the difference between life and death, and that means having immediate access to a nearby AED.

“We found that coffee shops and ATMs ranked highly across several related metrics, and that those rankings were stable over the years,” says Chan, who is the director of the Centre for Healthcare Engineering at the University of Toronto and a Canada Research Chair in Novel Optimization and Analytics in Health.

Chan’s lab has several ongoing research projects on AED placements, including using drones to deliver AEDs, and optimizing AED placements in high-rise buildings.

“Ultimately, we want to get AEDs in the right locations, so they are accessible when needed most,” says Chan. “Health organizations, foundations, and policymakers aiming to develop public access defibrillator programs could use our rankings to identify promising businesses to develop partnerships for AED deployment.”