Saving lives in Renfrew County just got easier.
Micheline Turnau of the Heart and Stroke Foundation listens to a comment from Arnprior Reeve Walter Stack. The health promotion specialist was addressing county council about physical activity programs in the county and the impending arrival of 67 new automated external defibrillators.
Steve Newman, Renfrew Mercury
Through a partnership of the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Renfrew County Paramedic Service, 45 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) have been installed across the county since 2005, while another 67 are scheduled to be installed in Renfrew County facilities by June 2013.
“We’ve really been leading the area for the last eight years,” health promotion specialist Micheline Turnau of the Heart and Stroke Foundation told the Feb. 28 session of Renfrew County council.
Renfrew-area facilities identified to receive new AEDs include each elementary school in Renfrew, Walter Zadow Public School in Arnprior, McNab Public School, a second AED at the Nick Smith Centre in Arnprior, Renfrew Collegiate Institute, Admaston Recreation Complex, the White Lake sports and recreation facility, and the Matawatchan community hall.
The Ma-Te-Way Activity Centre, St. Joseph’s Catholic High School and the Renfrew Royal Canadian Legion are among about 40 buildings where the AEDs are already located.
The growing number of AEDs in the county is also leading to a growing success rate with treatment of cardiac arrests.
In the last year or so, Renfrew County chief paramedic Mike Nolan says the former revival rate of about three per cent for 90 to 100 people suffering cardiac arrest has improved drastically.
Life-saving treatment at Calabogie Peaks
One dramatic, life-saving incident occurred Jan. 10 at Calabogie Peaks Ski Resort, where a skier collapsed after a day of skiing and went into cardiac arrest.
Without a pulse, he was revived after receiving CPR from an off-duty nurse and a ski patrol member’s use of the local AED unit. After being transported by Ornge Air Ambulance, the man underwent successful surgery at the Ottawa Heart Institute the same day.
“It’s that quick reaction that we would like to see, that people know where the AEDs are, and what to do, and we know how to start CPR as soon as possible,” said Turnau.
‘When these things are in place we have great success,” she added. “We know we can continue to improve our survival rates across the province by doing these things.”
Renfrew County chief paramedic Mike Nolan says statistics from the past year have been extremely encouraging.
“In previous years, we were seeing survival rates from cardiac arrest of one, two or three per cent. But council has invested in a number of programs, not the least of which has been the AED program and community awareness.
“In 2012 the early run on our data, not to be confirmed yet, we’re seeing a 15 per cent survival rate,” said Nolan.
“So, (that’s) pretty fantastic, with the advent of the defibrillator program and early access to 9-1-1 … we’ve focused on strengthening every link in that chain of survival.”
The number of AEDs in Renfrew County will soon more than double, with the help of the program that’s funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
The 67 AEDs are among an estimated 2,500 AEDs that will be put into schools, recreation centres and other facilities across Ontario with the co-operation of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Schools are preferred locations for AEDs, said Turnau, because they have proven to be community hubs that are also used for after-school activities by both youngsters and adults.
For each of the 67 AEDs coming to Renfrew County, up to 10 people will receive free training on how to operate the device. The Renfrew County Paramedic Service will also provide maintenance of the AED units and annual retraining.
Since the introduction of the program in Renfrew County eight years ago, about 48 lives have been saved, said Turnau.
The more AEDs the better, says Nolan.
“We’ve got a huge county, which continues to be a challenge to have a response time, of an urban nature, of eight minutes or less.
“So what we’ve done is target locations where people come together, where there’s Heart Wise programs, where there are municipal halls, recreation facilities and hockey rinks … where we’ll get the best bang for our buck and be able to use devices such as this.
“We’ve also partnered with the private sector, like Calabogie Peaks which was generous enough to come forward to purchase a defibrillator. We’ve also made them part of our program by providing training and early notification within our dispatch system.
“If you dial from a place that has a defibrillator on site, the dispatcher automatically sees that there’s a defibrillator and will direct the caller to get that device,” explains Nolan.
During her Feb. 28 presentation, Turnau spoke about how Renfrew County has been a leader through its Physical Activity Network, Heart Wise exercise stations, and AED distribution.