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1,000 defibrillators for public places

Province funds placement of life-saving machines

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Premier Greg Selinger and Health Minister Theresa Oswald look on as an automated external defibrillator is demonstrated..
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Defibillators in public places

BY AMY TUCKETT
Winnipeg Health Region
Published Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Helping someone survive a heart attack will soon be easier, when 1,000 defibrillators are distributed around the province in the new year.

The Manitoba government announced a plan today to provide the free automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) to organizations and facilities.

"Simply put, this will save lives," said Theresa Oswald, Minister of Health, at a press conference held at Sturgeon Heights Community Centre.

Last year, the province announced legislation - the first of its kind in Canada - requiring high-traffic areas such as community centres, airports and arenas to have a defibrillator onsite by January 31, 2014. Premier Greg Selinger said supplying 1,000 new units will go a long way toward that goal, which also requires AEDs to be registered and have signs identifying where the defibrillators are located within each facility.

AED

AEDs are portable machines which deliver an electric shock to the heart and are programmed to detect if a person is having an irregular heart rhythm.

Debbie Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba, said that immediate access to a defibrillator can mean the difference between life and death. "Forty-five thousand Canadians experience cardiac arrest per year; of those less than five per cent survive," she said, adding that having an AED present, used in combination with CPR, can increase odds of survival by 75 per cent.

A new registry system will allow 911 emergency operators to identify where the AEDs are located within a building. The registry will be run by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

"Manitoba's new legislation will not only ensure defibrillators are more widely available, but in those crucial moments following a cardiac arrest, the legislation will assist bystanders in quickly finding and using a defibrillator in public places," said Chris Broughton, President of Paramedics of Winnipeg and Manitoba Government and General Employees Union Local 911.

With simple audio and visual commands, AEDs are designed to be simple to use by the public. Their use is taught in first aid and CPR classes in Manitoba. The machine can detect whether a person requires a shock, and will not work if not required.

There are approximately 1,500 registered AEDs in the province, a number this move will dramatically increase, said Broughton. The ultimate goal in AED placement in public places is to require a person to travel no more than three minutes inside a public building to find an AED, he says.

Starting January 7, organizations wanting free defibrillators can submit applications to the Heart and Stroke Foundation at a first-come, first-serve basis. More information is available at heartandstroke.mb.ca/aedlegislation.

A full list of designated public places that will be required to have a defibrillator on site, as well as information about the types of acceptable AEDs, installation and registration is available at manitoba.ca/health/aed.

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