Parkland Ambulance is helping keep the community safe, one AED at a time.
This week, Parkland Ambulance announced AEDs will be going into three new locations in the Prince Albert region -- the MacDowell and District Lions Hall, the Buckland Arena and the Hillside Physio and Fitness Centre.
“In the region there are approximately 170 sites but there are more devices because some of these sites have multiple devices -- for example the Art Hauser Centre, there are three devices in that building alone,” said Lyle Karasiuk, director of Public Affairs for Parkland Ambulance.
There are AED in communities as far as Elk Ridge, Shellbrook, Candle Lake and Birch Hills, he said.
“We are working with all of the community clubs through the city of Prince Albert right now,” Karasiuk said. “If you remember back to last February of 2013, Prime Minister (Stephen) Harper was in Saskatoon for a major announcement that the government of Canada announced the funding of an AED for every rink in Canada, a project that is worth over $300 million if my math and memory serve me right.”
The project started to roll out in November, he said, and they are working on getting AEDs into all the local rinks and community clubs in the region.
“That is the first phase. In subsequent years, there are other phases,” Karasiuk said. “It is a three-year program. That is the first key phase, to get them out there to all of the rinks.”
He said the way they look at it is anywhere people gather together there should be an AED available.
“Eventually what we would like to see is an AED being as common as a fire extinguisher,” Karasiuk said. “In a building, when you walk in a building and see a fire extinguisher because of the building code, then you should see an AED too.”
In Manitoba there is provincial legislation mandating having an AED in every public building, from schools to government-owned facilities.
“Saskatchewan doesn’t have that type of legislation but there are many aggressive AED programs,” Karasiuk said.
Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Regina have the three most aggressive AED placement programs in the province.
“Do we have more to grow? Absolutely,” Karasiuk said. “There are a number of churches in our area looking at them. There are still a number of our hotels that don’t have them, so we still have lots of room and capacity to grow in our program.”
AEDs are an important lifesaving tool, which is why he believes they should be more common.
“The easiest thing people have to understand is if someone were to collapse in the building and nobody did anything except stand there, except maybe call for help, they probably have a less than 10 per cent chance of survival,” Karasiuk said.
The survival rate goes up by 15 to 20 per cent if CPR is added, but even higher with an AED.
“If we add an AED in the facility … someone grabs the AED, turns it on and follows the voice prompts because it is just that easy, now we can take that chance of survival well pass the 50 per cent mark and may in fact make a difference,” Karasiuk said. “Maybe when the paramedics walk in that door, the person is already breathing on their own, have their own heart rate on the go and maybe all the paramedics just have to do some other advanced care to stabilize that person.
“We’ve now given that person the best possible chance we can.”
Karasiuk said you could take the best medical team and put them in a controlled setting but without a defibrillator survival rates would still be poor for those who go into cardiac arrest.
“That is how important that AED is in the hospital or how important that electrical shock is.”
He would like the program to continue to grow and the first step is keeping the public informed.
“Through the announcement of three new sites, we remind the public that AEDs exist in public locations,” Karasiuk said. “We encourage the public -- when they are out at their local church, community centre or hockey rink, look for (an AED).”
The first hint there is an AED in the building will be a sticker at the entrance informing them there is an AED on site.
“The second thing is to look for an AED device in a cabinet, usually below a sign on the wall,” Karasiuk said. “You can ask an event worker or someone in the facility.”
It is also a good idea for businesses and organizations with an AED on site to keep their employees or volunteers informed and aware of the AED, he said.
“An AED in any facility comes with a component of training,” Karasiuk said. “Although they are simple and easy to use, we want to make sure the facility that has them has some people who are trained.
“We are always encouraging businesses to get first aid and CPR trained and we are happy to provide that training for them,” he added.
Karasiuk said an AED costs as little as $1,500, which isn’t too expensive for most businesses and organizations.
“Almost all of our schools have them now --in fact, we are just adding a new one into Carlton Comprehensive High School in the next coming weeks because of their recent expansion with the new gym and the busy school that it is,” Karasiuk said. “There are already two in the building now so we are going to be adding a third one.”
If anyone is interested in getting an AED in their facility, they can contact Karasiuk.
“Think about having an AED and think about having first aid and CPR as part of that placement,” Karasiuk said.
Thos interested in knowing where AEDs are in their community can go on the Parkland Ambulance website at www.parklandambulance.com and under the News and Community drop down menu there is an option to see a Heart Safe AED map.
“They will see all of the sites and all of the locations there are.”