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Heart and Stroke Foundation and federal government install first automated external defibrillator as part of new program to equip arenas across Canada

Foundation working to make the life-saving devices as common as fire extinguishers

LEGAL, AB, Jan. 22, 2014 /CNW/ - Installation of the first of 2000 automated external defibrillators  (AEDs) in arenas and recreation centres across Canada was announced today at the Legal Recreation Complex by Health Minister Rona Ambrose and Heart and Stroke Foundation president Bobbe Wood.

The AEDs are part of a $10 million program funded by the federal government and administered by the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The program will roll out over the next three years, and will put these life-saving AEDs into communities in every province and territory, and will train more than 20,000 facility staff and users to know how to respond to a sudden cardiac arrest.

"This program puts the ability to save lives in the hands of Canadians," says Heart and Stroke Foundation president Bobbe Wood. "It combines lifesaving technology - the AEDs  - with training that provides the skills and confidence to step forward and act in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest. It has potential to save thousands of Canadian lives… to create survivors."

She adds that ensuring that all public facilities have access to an AED and training would not be possible without the support of governments and private donors.

"CPR and AED use are essential skills that every single Canadian should know and have the confidence to use," says Wood. "They put saving lives in everyone's hands."

AEDs are electronic devices used to restart a person's heart that has stopped beating. They are safe, easy to use, and can be operated effectively by the public. CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) can help restore blood flow to someone suffering cardiac arrest for a short time until advanced medical care arrives. By using an AED quickly (ideally within the first three minutes of a cardiac arrest) combined with CPR, the chances of surviving a sudden cardiac arrest soar by close to 75 per cent.

Approximately 40,000 cardiac arrests occur each year in Canada - that is about one every 12 minutes.  Most occur in homes and public places, and many are witnessed by a family member, co-worker or friend. Without defibrillation and early CPR, only five per cent of people who experience a cardiac arrest survive.

Trevor Forest knows this first-hand. At 58 years old, he was an avid hockey player. He was physically fit and looked after his health. However, in the middle of a game at Edmonton's NAIT arena he suddenly collapsed. His good friend and teammate Kevin Pollitt knew immediately that Trevor was in big trouble; in fact, Trevor was in cardiac arrest - his heart had stopped pumping and he wasn't breathing. Kevin had received training in CPR and knew that there was an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in the arena. He immediately put his CPR and AED training into action, to save his friend's life. When he finally heard Trevor gasp for breath, "it was an unbelievable feeling," says Kevin. Trevor's survival was the result of an AED placed at the rink, and people who stepped up to use it.

The Foundation, through its network of instructors, trains approximately 440,000 Canadians every year in CPR and AED use. Although training is important AEDs are still safe and easy to use by the general public.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation's mission is to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. A volunteer-based health charity, we strive to tangibly improve the health of every Canadian family, every day. 'Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.'

SOURCE Heart and Stroke Foundation

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