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Life-saving defibrillators for public spots

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 
Sturgeon Heights Community Centre manager Barry Chambers with his facility's AED.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Sturgeon Heights Community Centre manager Barry Chambers with his facility's AED.

It's a small device that can save your life in the event of a cardiac arrest, and soon it will be nearly as commonplace in Manitoba as a fire extinguisher.

The Selinger government will require the installation of as many as 8,000 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public places by Jan. 31, 2014.

Manitoba is believed to be the first jurisdiction in North America to legislate such widespread public access to the devices. On Wednesday, the government outlined where AEDs will be located and how organizations can acquire and register them.

"The bottom line is defibrillators save lives, and that's why this program is being rolled out," Premier Greg Selinger told a news conference at the Sturgeon Heights Community Centre.

He announced the province is purchasing 1,000 AEDs, which retail for between $2,000 and $2,500, depending on the model. They will be available through the Heart and Stroke Foundation on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Jan. 7.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation has also negotiated with distributors so organizations required to purchase them will receive discounts of 30 to 40 per cent off the regular price.

The foundation will keep a registry of all AEDs in the province. The registry will be shared with 911 dispatchers to help those trying to care for a cardiac-arrest victim find the nearest defibrillator.

When someone undergoes cardiac arrest, speedy care is essential. Every minute that goes by without assistance reduces the chances of survival by 10 per cent, paramedic Chris Broughton said Wednesday. "Simply waiting for help to arrive is waiting too long," he said.

AEDs come with voice instructions that are easy to follow. No training is necessary to use them. They are also designed in such a way that they cannot cause harm. If the AED does not detect an irregular heart rhythm indicating potential cardiac arrest, it will not deliver a shock. Yet, its use can improve survival rates by 75 per cent over the administration of CPR alone.

"The technology is so good now that a Grade 4 student could do this by paying attention," Health Minister Theresa Oswald said Wednesday.

Altona police Chief Perry Batchelor knows first-hand how valuable AEDs can be. In 2008, he led a fundraising effort to purchase a device for the town's rec centre. A year later, he was refereeing a hockey game when he had a massive heart attack. The unit he helped purchase saved his life.

On Wednesday, Batchelor, who has made a full recovery, said he's happy there will soon be a proliferation of the devices in Manitoba. "Having them in schools and other public places is huge," he said.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

 

Numerous venues

must have AEDs

 

A list of designated public places that will require automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to be in place by Jan. 31, 2014:

Fitness clubs, gyms and other facilities. (Includes facilities that either have 150 or more individual members, or in which at least 20 hours of indoor group physical-activity programs are held in the majority of weeks in a year. This would include martial arts facilities, dance studios and wellness centres that meet the membership or group activity frequency guidelines.)

Community centres. A community recreational facility must have an AED if it has at least 20 hours of indoor group physical-activity programs held in the majority of weeks in a year. The AED must be made publicly accessible to the indoor portions of community centres during their regular hours of operation.

Clubhouses of golf courses.

Other athletic facilities, including: indoor public swimming pools, indoor arenas used primarily for hockey or other ice-skating activities and curling clubs.

Schools, colleges and universities. For universities and colleges, AEDs are required in athletic facilities.

Airports, train and bus stations.

Homeless shelters.

Casinos.

Major shopping centres, including Polo Park, St. Vital, Kildonan Place, Portage Place, Cityplace, The Forks Market, Grant Park, Garden City and the Bay downtown.

Major sporting venues including the MTS Centre, Investors Group Field, Shaw Park, Assiniboia Downs.

Museums, cultural centres and other popular destinations, including the Centennial Concert Hall, Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium (Brandon), Manitoba Museum, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Centre culturel franco-manitobain, Winnipeg Art Gallery and Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Winnipeg City Hall.

Millennium Library.

Winnipeg Convention Centre.

Legislative building.

Law Courts building in Winnipeg and courthouses in Brandon, Dauphin, The Pas, Morden, and Minnedosa.

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