More funding for defibrillator access


Submitted /
May 26, 2014 01:23 PM

From the soccer pitch to the swimming pool, sudden cardiac arrest can happen anywhere, at any time. That's why the government of British Columbia is investing an additional $1 million in partnership with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to expand the public access to defibrillation program and help save lives.

The additional funding will support the placement of more automated external defibrillators (AEDs), for a total of up to 750 AEDs in a variety of public venues throughout B.C., including community centres, arenas, recreation centres, playing fields, libraries and sports centres.

“You have the power to save a life in your hands, by using a defibrillator combined with CPR," said Health Minister Terry Lake in a news release. "Today's announcement is about giving the right tools to people in the right places so they can be used quickly to save a life."

The Ministry of Health and the Heart and Stroke Foundation originally each contributed $1 million to the program. The program officially launched in

February 2013. The foundation will be fundraising to match the province's  $1-million contribution, for a total of $4 million supporting the program.

The program will donate one or more automated external defibrillators to every municipality in British Columbia, depending on population size.

Currently, 175 AEDs have been placed in 82 communities throughout the province.

“With even more AEDs in communities, it will become that much easier for

British Columbians to use the essential steps to save lives by calling 9-1-1, doing CPR, and using an AED,” added incoming CEO Adrienne Bakker of BC & Yukon, Heart and Stroke Foundation. "We're proud to be leaders in providing AEDs and CPR to communities. Together, we're creating survivors."

The program also is a partnership with the BC Ambulance Service, which supports the venues receiving an AED by providing orientation for staff and volunteers on how to correctly use and maintain the devices. BC Ambulance Service has also linked the AED registry with the ambulance dispatch information system, which maps all of the locations in the province where AEDs have been installed. When a bystander calls 9-1-1 for an ambulance, the dispatcher will know if an AED is available at the location, and will assist the bystander to use the AED on the cardiac arrest patient.

“BCAS paramedics and dispatch staff provide assistance to hundreds of sudden cardiac arrest patients each year. We see that early use of CPR and an AED use can greatly improve the survival rate of friend, family member, co-workeror community member who is experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest. Learning CPR and how to use an AED are life-saving skills everyone should have," said Dr. William Dick, vice-president of medical programs, BC Emergency Health Services.

The current survival rate for an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest is only about five per cent. Evidence shows that when CPR and AEDs are used together in the first few minutes during a sudden cardiac arrest, survival rates can be increased up to 75 per cent. An AED is a safe, portable device anyone can use to deliver an electric shock to restart a heart in sudden cardiac arrest. The AED reads the heart rhythm and only delivers a shock if needed.

Sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating, stopping blood from flowing to the brain or other vital organs. Without immediate help, a victim of sudden cardiac arrest will suffer brain damage within three minutes. After 12 minutes, survival is unlikely.

— Submitted

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