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toronto ambulanceThis is big news for condo dwellers. Huge news actually.

A new study from the Canadian Medical Association Journal has concluded that survival rates from cardiac arrest decrease the higher up the building a person lives.

They studied 8,216 adults who suffered heart attacks between Jan 2007 and December 2012 in Toronto and Peel region. Here’s what they found:

4.2% for people living below the third floor

2.6% for people living on or above the third floor

0.9% survival rate for people above the 16th floor

0% survival rate for those living above the 25th floor

Holy crap. 

Researchers are inferring that the delay to getting to patients – the elevators – is lowering the residents’ probability of survival. Interestingly, their study didn’t find any impact of socioeconomic or geographic factors  – rich, poor or somewhere in between, the higher the floor you lived on, the lower the survival rate. 

The study made several recommendations:

  1. Improving the accessibility of defibrillators by placing them on specific floors, in building lobbies or inside elevators so that they can be easily delivered to the floor of the cardiac arrest, saving precious minutes and ensuring rapid defibrillation.
  2. Give paramedics a universal elevator key similar to what firefighters have, giving them sole access to elevators without public interference
  3. Find ways to alert building security to the fact 911-initiated first responders are en route so they can have easy access to the building and elevators waiting on the main floor

So will this news impact the condo market? 

In Toronto, floor height differences in condos usually add $1,000-2,000 per floor, meaning a condo on the 8th floor will likely be $8,000-16,000 less expensive than an identical condo on the 16th floor.

Many Buyers already show preferences for lower floors – some for fire safety reasons (the fireman’s ladder only reaches the 7th floor) and others because of height phobias. The news that survival rates fall the higher up you live will certainly be taken into consideration by some Buyers – particularly the downsizeres and boomers. But there’ll always be demand for the penthouse.


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