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In a heartbeat

Memorial installs life saving devices in every building

Campus and Community

By Michelle Osmond

Every year, more than 45,000 Canadians suffer from a sudden cardiac arrest, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The person’s heart stops beating or stops beating effectively, they lose consciousness and blood flow to the brain, and vital organs are cut off. If their heart is not restarted within a few minutes, brain damage and death occur. Less than 5 per cent of sudden cardiac arrests outside a hospital survive because of delays in recognizing the cardiac emergency and access to appropriate care.

However, Memorial is one step closer to being able to save lives after a sudden cardiac arrests. Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) has installed 60 additional automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in buildings around the university. That means one in every building of the St. John’s campus, Grenfell Campus and the Marine Institute.

“The doctor at the emergency department said it was the AED being used so quickly that saved her life.” — Pat St. Croix

AEDs analyze the hearts rhythm and deliver an electrical shock to restore the heart to normal rhythm. Research has shown that early defibrillation can reduce premature death from an sudden cardiac arrest and using an AED with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) within the first three minutes of a cardiac arrest can increase the chance of survival by up to 75 per cent.

You don’t have to convince EHS advisor Pat St. Croix that AEDs save lives. He was a firefighter in Greenwood, Nova Scotia, about 15 years ago when he and his crew got a call for medical assistance.

“We arrived on scene to an unresponsive female with no pulse. We started CPR and installed the AED. The AED delivered three shocks and her pulse came back. This was all completed before the ambulance arrived on scene. She was sent to the hospital and later recovered from the heart attack. The doctor at the emergency department said it was the AED being used so quickly that saved her life.”

Placing AEDs in the workplace within one to two minutes of a potential victim, along with proper management and training for employees on how to use the devices, can mean the difference between life and death.

“In terms of first aid equipment, the AED would be the most valuable piece of equipment to have.  AED’s do save lives,” Mr. St. Croix added. AED training is included in the standard first aid training course and anyone at Memorial can complete standard first aid training if it’s approved by their supervisor.

AED training is included in the standard first aid training course and anyone at Memorial can complete the standard training if it’s approved by their supervisor.

Each Memorial AED has an owner, or department, assigned to it. It is the owner’s responsibly to maintain the AED program through its Occupational Health and Safety Committee, including visually inspecting AEDs on a regular basis and performing software updates or upgrades.

The video below demonstrates how to use AEDs.


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