Federal Minister of Health Rona Ambrose watches as Mike Hoffman, manager of national AED installation demonstrates one of the new Automated External Defibrillator unveiled in Legal Wednesday afternoon.
by Morinville News Staff
Legal – Federal Minister of Health Rona Ambrose, representatives from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and an advocate of Automated External Defibrillators (AED) gathered at the Legal Curling Club Wednesday afternoon to announce the life-saving units would be installed in recreational arenas across the country. In her second stop of the day in the region, Minister Ambrose announced that more than 2,000 AEDs, an electronic device used to restart a person’s heart that has stopped beating, would be installed by 2016. Legal’s was the first to be installed under the four-year, $10 million initiative the Harper Government announced in February of 2013.
“As you know, our government is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians, while encouraging active and healthy lifestyles” the Minister told an audience of dignitaries, residents and media. “The risk of sudden cardiac arrest can increase, as we all know, during intense physical activity like hockey. The risk can increase for people that have high blood pressure or underlying heart condition.”
In addition to placing some 2,000 AEDs across the country, the government is looking to train more than 20,000 people in how to use the equipment through the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s instructor network and local Emergency Medical Services. Additionally, the government will provide support to the Heart and Stroke Foundation to provide a national database that would track AEDs installed in recreational facilities and Canada’s 3,500 arenas. The database is intended to provide local emergency services with valuable information regarding the availability of AEDs located in their jurisdictions. “We know AEDs work,” Ambrose said, adding the government has heard countless stories about Canadians that have had their lives saved with the equipment. “Recreational facilities are often the centre of community activities across the country. The installation of AEDs will benefit all of those facilities, be they sports participants or the stressed-out parent in the stands.”
Heart and Stroke Foundation supports initiative
Ambrose is not alone in encouraging all recreational facilities in Canada to apply to the program for an AED for their building. Heart and Stroke Foundation President Bobbe Wood also extolled the benefits of having the equipment on hand. “Our goal at the Heart and Stroke Foundation is to make AEDs as common as fire extinguishers all across Canada,” Wood said, adding Wednesday’s announcement really was about saving lives. “It’s about creating more survivors rather than victims; giving them a chance to go home, hug their kids, take their dog for a walk, and to take back their lives after what might have been or could have been a fatal cardiac arrest.” Wood went on to say there are 40,000 cardiac arrests in Canada each year, approximately one every 12 minutes. She believes thousands of lives can to be saved through the program annually. “The vast majority of these happen in homes and public places; places like hockey rinks and community centres,” Wood said. “Without fast CPR and the availability and use of an AED, most people … who have cardiac arrest will die.”
A personal tragedy
One woman who knows all to well about the need for AEDs and those who can use them is Kim Reuther, a woman whose 16-year-old son, Brock, died due to cardiac arrest 20 months ago. Now an advocate of the installation of AEDs, Reuther was on hand during the announcement to share the story of her son’s death during the first volleyball practice of the season. “His beautiful life came to a sudden end from sudden cardiac arrest,” Reuther said, adding prior to leaving for the game she had remarked it would be his last practice if he did not improve his math grades. “Half an hour into practice he collapsed facedown on the gym floor. He died of sudden cardiac arrest with an AED unused on the floor right beside him.”
Reuther believes an AED and training in how to use one is the cure for sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes. “They are for everyone to use,” she said. “There is no greater gift than to be able to save a life. Our future hope is that we can save citizens’ and young athletes with a simple shock.”
Deputy Mayor Carol Tremblay said the Town appreciated the equipment. “The Legal Arena and curling rink are well-utilized in our community. The building sees a large amount of traffic throughout the year from people of all ages and from all regions, the Deputy Mayor said. “Having these two live saving units is a huge asset to our facility.” Legal was eligible under Tier 1 of the program as the curling rink did not have an AED. They also were eligible under Tier 2A for the arena as the arena’s AED is more than five years old. Club 60 Roses facility in Legal also has an AED. Deputy Mayor Tremblay said since Legal does not have an ambulance in town anymore, the equipment is just one extra step for residents and visitors to the community
Minister Ambrose is hoping to see more than 2,000 AEDs like that installed in Legal installed. The government wants to put as many of them in Canadian arenas and recreation centres as possible. For more information on AED installation and training, visit resuscitation.heartandstroke.ca.
Heart and Stroke Foundation president Bobbe Wood and Health Minister Rona Ambrose took time to talk to members of the École Citadelle Hockey Academy Wednesday afternoon about Legals AED equipment after a formal announcement inside the Legal Curling Club. Ambrose and Wood were impressed with the students’ knowledge about the device and how to use it.
The AEDs are being installed in recreational arenas across the country under a partnership between the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. – Lucie Roy Photo