The province and the Heart and Stroke Foundation will spend $2 million to put 450 automated external defibrillators in public venues across the province over the next two years.
The new devices — which read heart rhythm and a shock only if needed to restart a heart in sudden cardiac arrest — will be placed in community centres, arenas, recreation centres, playing fields and sports centres.
“We’re placing AEDs where there is the greatest chance they’ll save a life,” said Diego Marchese, CEO of the B.C. and Yukon branch of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, in a statement.
The province and the foundation will each spend $1 million on the program.
More than 2,000 British Columbians die from sudden cardiac arrest each year, according to the Health Ministry. The survival rate for someone who goes into cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting is about five per cent, but goes up to to 75 per cent if a defibrillator is used within five minutes.
The B.C. Ambulance Service will support the venues receiving the equipment by teaching staff how to correctly use and maintain the devices, the ministry said.
There are also plans for a registry that will map the location of the defibrillators and link to the ambulance dispatch information system so that a dispatcher can direct the caller to the nearest AED. The system is expected to be active by the end of the month.
The foundation is also launching a campaign to help citizens recognize the signs of sudden cardiac arrest and to respond by calling 911, doing CPR and using a defibrillator.
Saanich teen Thomas Ottewell, 17, was on his way home from Claremont Secondary School on Jan. 30 when he saw a man who appeared to be dead. Ottewell performed CPR and firefighters used an automated external defibrillator to revive the 82-year-old man.
For information about the B.C. Public Access to Defibrillation Program, go to bcpadprogram.ca.
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