As we all know, over the last number of years the Heart and Stroke Foundation has been working to place an automated external defibrillator (AED) in all our arenas and schools. Thanks to many donations, government funding and fundraising, the funding needed was reached last spring allowing them to be able to complete the placements. The final AEDs should be in our schools by the end of December, with training to be completed by the end of the school year.
This has been a challenging undertaking, but well worth it considering the potential number of lives that can be saved, and the number of lives that have already been saved since the program began.
This leads us to a situation where we have over 1,000 AEDs in our province but no link to the 911 system. We need to be able to have the 911 operators able to direct individuals to a nearby AED whenever possible. If an AED is needed on a store parking lot or across the street from a school, many people would have no idea where to find an AED. However, if our 911 operators could direct a caller to an AED in seconds, rather than wait for the arrival of first responders, many lives could be saved.
These lives don’t just include older individuals, obese individuals or smokers. There are children born with congenital heart defects; children with genetic conditions such as arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), Long QT syndrome or catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT), and adults with heart disease who could need an AED at any time. Why should we have to wait for first responders if there is an AED nearby? First responders do a fantastic job, sometimes risking their own lives in the process. We need to help these individuals as much as we can. Giving our 911 operators access to locations of AEDS would be a huge step in limiting unnecessary deaths.
There are several companies who work with government agencies to setup AED registries and link the registry with the 911 system. Just recently, Nova Scotia implemented a registry linked with their 911 system, and P.E.I. is moving in the same direction. There are also other areas across the country also using an AED registry linked with their 911 systems, some for the past 10 years. Why should Newfoundland and Labrador be the last to implement a registry?
A proposal has been put forward to our government to implement such a registry and link it to our 911 system. Unfortunately, there seems to be resistance to doing this. The first issue is always money. The proposal put forward to our government costs less than five cents per person annually. Is the life of someone you know worth five cents?
The only other cost is initial setup. This is a very economical solution to implement a provincewide system. To all of the organizations, companies and corporations who contributed to this endeavor, thank you. To all other companies and individuals, please support the Heart and Stroke and make our AED registry a reality. A donation to this cause could just be the savior of yourself, a friend, neighbour or child. Maybe your child.
Contact your MHA. Let’s get our government on side and help save lives.
Conception Bay South