Three new automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have joined the more than 200 existing devices in the Prince Albert area.
© Herald file photo
An automated external defibrillator (AED) is shown here at the Art Hauser Centre. Three new AEDs have recently been added to public buildings in Prince Albert, a trend Parkland Ambulance Care hopes will continue.
AEDs are now located in the main entrances of Westview Community School and École Vickers School. A second device has also been installed at the Prince Albert Police Service headquarters.
But Parkland Ambulance Care public affairs director Lyle Karasiuk has his sights set even higher.
“What we need to do is we need to make sure that there is a defibrillator eventually in every public building,” Karasiuk said. “That would be an ideal goal.”
He pointed to examples at other levels of government that encouraged the spread of AEDs in public facilities.
Among them were Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spring announcement of funding to place AEDs in every hockey rink in Canada and legislation in Manitoba requiring every public building in the province to have an AED.
“There’s lots of room for growth still here in the city of Prince Albert,” Karasiuk said. “We have an AED at a few hotels but, for example, we don’t have them in all our hotels.
“We don’t have them yet in all our schools, but we’re working towards that goal. There are large businesses still in our city that don’t have one available to them. We've got churches, which are huge community gatherings … where we don’t have AEDs available.”
Any public facility where large numbers of people congregate should have an AED, he said.
“We need to think in a big broad picture that the more places that we can place one of these devices, the safer we're going to make our community.”
Statistics indicate that if a person undergoes cardiac arrest where there is no AED available and no one knows CPR, with bystanders only able to watch helplessly while waiting for emergency assistance, that person has a seven to 10 per cent chance of survival.
The more places that we can place one of these devices, the safer we're going to make our community. Lyle Karasiuk
Survival rates increase to 15-20 per cent if a person with CPR training is present. But if an AED is available and a bystander immediately recognizes an emergency and begins performing CPR, the odds climb to 70 per cent.
“Think of it in another perspective,” Karasiuk said. “We know how important defibrillation is in the health-care setting.
“But if I gave the best health-care team … the most up-to-date health-care centre available, but gave them no defibrillator -- absolutely no ability to deliver an electrical shock -- your chance of survival is no better than being out in the community.
“That’s how important defibrillation is to a sudden cardiac arrest.”
Parkland Ambulance Care provides assistance and consultation to any local business or organization that wishes to install an AED.
Karasiuk described the devices as relatively inexpensive, with defibrillators available at prices as low as $1,500 in some outlets.
But he cautioned individuals who purchase AEDs online to make sure they buy from a Canadian supplier rather than a United States supplier, so as to ensure compliance with Health Canada regulations and serviceability for the device.
This week alone, Karasiuk has spoken with three groups in the city interested in obtaining an AED on their premises.
That number looks to continue expanding in the near future.
“I’ve got three more sites coming,” Karasiuk said. “I’ve got two more schools that we’re going to be announcing in the coming weeks as well.
“We work diligently to make sure that there are AEDs in public places.”