If you are walking around a school, public arena, or any other community complex, there is a good chance you’ve seen a public access defibrillator. Also referred to as an automated external defibrillator, these devices help revive someone who has gone into cardiac arrest. This device treats the patient through defibrillation and can restore a human heart to a normal rate.
Senior area manager of London Heart & Stroke Jennifer Hassan says how many they have contributed to the city of London, “In the city of London, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has allocated for 130 of the PADs. Mostly you’ll find them in schools, public arenas as well. Where you find a lot of people.”
The best part about these devices, as Hassan explains, anyone can operate one.
“That is one of our main messages, it is ‘if you have two hands, you can save a life.’ You don’t have to certified in CPR, you don’t need to be trained to use an AED. They’re very easy to use, the machine will actually walk you through step by step.”
One might wonder how to tell if someone is really in cardiac arrest. Hassan gives tips on how to check for cardiac arrest, and react quickly and effectively.
“People sometimes are afraid to act because they don’t know ‘is someone in cardiac arrest?’ So the best signs of cardiac arrest are if someone collapses, they’re non-responsive to touch or to sound. Or their breathing is either stopped or abnormal. That’s cardiac arrest. And it’s critical that when someone collapses from cardiac arrest, that you begin CPR and the use of an AED within seconds. Every minute that goes by where nothing is done, the chances of survival decreases by about 7 to 10 percent, so it’s really important to act right away.”
So how common is it for someone to enter cardiac arrest? According to the Heart & Stroke foundation, about 40 000 cardiac arrests occur in Canada each year, and less than one in ten are expected to survive if it occurs outside of a hospital. But with the implementation of AEDs in London and across the country as well, many are hopeful for that stat to change.
“In the month of October there was a gentleman, Jarmo Stromberg who is a hockey player, he was playing with his team at the Western Fair Sports Centre and he collapsed during the hockey game. Luckily for him his teammates knew that there was an AED on site, they began CPR right away, went and grabbed the AED, used it and it saved his life.”
And although there are many places just like the Western Fair Sports Centre that have AEDs available and ready to use at anytime, Hassan explains that London Heart & Stroke feels the need for many more public access defibrillators in the city.
“Our goal at the foundation is to have an AED as commonly found as a fire extinguisher.”