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Public Access Defibrillation Program

Haldimand County’s Public Access Defibrillation Program has seen defibrillators placed in public buildings across the county and hundreds of people trained in CPR in a bid to save lives.

When out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (stopping of the heart) occurs, the chance of survival without intervention decreases by 10% per minute. After 4 to 6 minutes without treatment of cardiac arrest, brain death occurs and by 10 minutes without treatment, the chance of survival is next to none.

The benefits of early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) are well documented in “stopping the clock” and providing circulation of oxygenated blood to the vital organs. CPR will essentially maintain blood flow which will buy the patient time to definitive treatment.

It is found that ensuring early CPR is the number 1 factor in increasing cardiac arrest survival outcomes. In recent years, CPR guidelines have been modified to make the training very easy and inexpensive in the hopes of it becoming more widespread.

Defibrillation saves lives

The most beneficial “definitive treatment” is defibrillation. Defibrillation is the application of energy to a heart, which is in a lethal and chaotic electrical rhythm and incapable of properly circulating blood. For many years, defibrillation was used only within a hospital setting. From there, it expanded to ambulance services and eventually fire departments.

In recent years, in an effort to ensure that defibrillation is applied in a timely manner (under 6 minutes); defibrillators have been placed in the community. The target areas are places where high volumes of people are likely to congregate and where staff (who could be trained in the operation of the machine) are readily available to respond.

In many communities around North America, the combination of wide-spread CPR training and public access defibrillation have increased cardiac arrest survival rates from the 5% that they have been traditionally over the years to as high as greater than 30% (the current gold standard in Seattle, Washington).

With the support and assistance of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, Haldimand County launched their public access defibrillation program in 2008. The program has seen 66 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) placed in the community. With these defibrillators, we were also able to train about 350 people in CPR.

The 66 defibrillators have been placed in:

  • 16 Community Centers
  • 4 Arenas (each having 2)
  • 5 County administration buildings
  • 13 Public schools and 5 Catholic schools
  • 6 Libraries
  • 4 Secondary Schools (each having 2)
  • 3 Museums
  • 3 Public pools

The project to place the defibrillators in the community is ongoing. We’ll focus on recreation facilities next. The public access defibrillator program is also available to assist private groups and organizations by providing information on defibrillators and assisting with the coordination of purchase, training and placement of defibrillators for private buildings.