Provincial defibrillator registry developed, 120 more units to be distributed
Do you know where the nearest defibrillator is located in the event of a cardiac emergency? A new Alberta defibrillator program will make it easier for a 911 dispatcher to guide callers to the devices during cardiac emergencies and help ensure they are maintained and ready to use.
The registry was developed by Alberta Health Services’ Emergency Medical.
The Public Access to Defibrillation program is one of the first of its kind in Canada and will increase access to the potentially life-saving devices in the critical minutes immediately following a cardiac arrest.
To celebrate the new program and raise awareness of the value of automated external defibrillator as a lifesaving measure, Emergency Medical Services and the Heart and Stroke Foundation have 120 complimentary defibrillators to distribute throughout the province.
“An AED registry makes sense as we embrace a borderless, provincial EMS system. The registry will help ensure maintenance checks are being done so that the devices will work properly when needed. By tying the registry into EMS dispatch, we can tell 911 callers where to locate the nearest AED in case of cardiac emergency and advise them how to use it,” says Emergency Medical Services Senior Medical Director Dr. Ian Phelps.
The registry will monitor the location and maintenance history of all registered defibrillators in the province. Registered users can access information about the devices at their sites, as well as keep updated on cardiopulmonary resuscitation/defibrillator training status for site responders. The registry will also notify users of upcoming maintenance requirements for their defibrillators.
The registry will be made available to Emergency Medical Services dispatchers starting this summer, with the rollout expected to be complete by early 2013.
“More than 40,000 deaths occur each year in Canada due to sudden cardiac arrest. The use of AEDs combined with early CPR increases the chance of survival during a cardiac incident but only if the AED can be located, has been maintained and is ready to use,” says Heart and Stroke Foundation Nationwide Director of Resuscitation Programs Tony Connelly.
A defibrillator works by monitoring heart rhythms. It can tell if the heart has stopped beating and, if required, the machine can then deliver an electric shock to the heart. Most of the time, this shock will restart the heart.
62-year-old Calgarian John Lester had just come off the ice during an early morning hockey game in March when he slumped over. “The guys said I just dropped dead. I had no heartbeat and no pulse.”
While a teammate and former police officer began resuscitation and the team manager called 911, the arena manager ran for the defibrillator, which had been donated 10 years ago and never used.
With instructions from the 911 operator, the defibrillator was attached and turned on followed by instructions to push the shock button then recommence resuscitation. This was repeated once more until Emergency Medical Services and fire crews arrived to take over.
Lester was admitted to intensive care and discharged two days later.
“I had no idea this was going to happen,” he says. “Last May I’d had an angiogram done and my heart was in really good shape. If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone,” Lester said.
To apply for an defibrillator for your community, register an existing unit or to find out more about the Public Access to Defibrillation program visit heart-safe.ca. Units will be distributed based on the needs of communities. The selection criteria is posted on the website with the application form. Applications close on June 30.
Common locations of defibrillators include recreation centres, community halls and workplaces. About 600 units are currently in the registry.
Twenty of the 120 complimentary defibrillators are courtesy of the Boston Pizza Foundation and the Cowan Foundation.