EMS and AHS team up to donate three defibrillators to Airdrie
This past June a defibrillator saved a man’s life during the Airdrie Mayor’s Run at Genesis Place and now Airdrie has access to three more of the life-saving devices.
The EMS Foundation and Alberta Health Services’ Emergency Medical Services donated one of the devices to Genesis Place on Feb. 5.
Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown recalled the June 3 incident and how the man survived thanks to the help of first responders.
“He suffered a cardiac arrest, his heart stopped,” said Brown after a public presentation of the new defibrillator at Genesis Place.
“It was quite amazing to see: We had a staff member run in, get the AED and a fireman put it on … stabilized his heart, brought him to hospital and he’s surviving today because of it. If not for that device, that gentleman … he wouldn’t have made it.”
Genesis Place will receive one of the three defibrillators donated within Airdrie, the other two will be donated to the Airdrie Edge Gymnastics Club and the Eastside Recycle Depot.
According to a press release, more than 300 applications were submitted for defibrillators province wide, and recipients were chosen on the basis of age demographic and emergency response proximity, among other criteria.
Thirty devices are being distributed by AHS-EMS across the province.
Lisa Barrett, EMS Foundation executive director, said a majority of the facilities selected were churches, libraries and recreational facilities.
“There’s just so many people accessing all of these facilities that having combined CPR training and AEDs (automated external defibrillators), when somebody has a cardiac arrest it can actually save their lives,” said Barrett.
“Our mission is to support programs and EMS in the communities in education, research, equipment and injury prevention. So this initiative really aligned with our mission.”
John Hein, co-ordinator of the AHS-EMS public access to defibrillation initiative, explained having a defibrillator in close proximity can greatly increase someone’s chance of survival in the event of cardiac arrest.
“When a person goes into cardiac arrest, for every minute they don’t have a pulse, the chance of survival drops by 10 per cent. So after five minutes, you have a 50 per cent chance of survival, after 10 minutes, zero per cent survival,” said Hein.
“So the encouragement is that CPR start immediately from the moment the person collapses and you identify that they’re in cardiac arrest to when you get electricity to their side, three minutes is the standard we’re looking for. Most fire and EMS responses are anywhere between four and 10 minutes, so by bridging that gap, by having these devices in these facilities, hopefully you’re increasing people’s survival.”
Hein said cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops pumping blood properly.
The EMS Foundation donated $75,000 towards the purchase of the 30 defibrillators and they will all be part of the Heart Safe Community Public Access to Defibrillation provincial registry, allowing dispatchers to guide those assisting in resuscitation. The devices are very user-friendly, but Hein recommends people sign up for first aid training so they have the ability to give cardio pulmonary resuscitation. For example, I RES-Q U, Inc. in Airdrie offers first aid and CPR training.
Hein also recommends the devices be stored in a well-maintained, high-traffic area, where they can be monitored to avoid theft, as they cost between $2,000 and $2,500 including all the accessories that go along with them.
“It’s a fairly hefty price for some organizations if they’re non-profit but simple fundraising, a bottle drive, can usually raise enough funds to purchase it,” he said.