Thousands of Devices Now Registered across Province To Provide Help in Health Crises: Minister Selby
Starting tomorrow, defibrillators are required by law in designated public buildings in Manitoba to ensure the life‑saving equipment is available to people in times of critical need, Health Minister Erin Selby said today.
"A cardiac arrest can occur anywhere at any time. Having a defibrillator close by can save someone's life and this new legislation ensures busy public places will have one ready in case of an emergency," said Minister Selby. "Other jurisdictions across Canada and internationally are looking to replicate our legislation and I'm proud our province is considered to be a leader in this initiative."
Manitoba was the first province in the country to develop legislation requiring public places to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) available on site. Under the Defibrillator Public Access Act, designated facilities include several types of high-traffic public places where cardiac arrest is more likely to occur such as gyms, indoor arenas, certain community centres, golf courses, schools and airports.
"In November 2009, I suffered a massive heart attack on the ice while refereeing a minor hockey game. There is little doubt in my mind that if there had not been an AED and people unafraid to get in there and assist me through CPR, I would not be here today," said Chief Perry Batchelor, Altona Police Service. "This is a tremendous piece of legislation which will no doubt save lives."
To make it easier for non-profit and community-owned public facilities to acquire the life-saving devices, the Manitoba government provided more than $1.3 million to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba for 1,000 defibrillators. This included AEDs for schools, community centres, curling clubs, golf courses and other sports venues.
"The province is an outstanding leader with a demonstrated commitment to creating a heart-safe environment for all Manitobans and our vision of having AEDs as commonplace as fire extinguishers is moving closer to reality," said Debbie Brown, chief executive officer, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba. "This law means more lives can be saved, more families will be together, more citizens will be working and more children will be laughing. Together, we will be creating more survivors."
In addition, the province partnered with the foundation to negotiate with multiple distributors to provide discounts ranging from 30 to 40 per cent off the regular retail price to make it easier for facilities designated under the new legislation to purchase a defibrillator.
The legislation also supports public access in an emergency by requiring signage to identify the locations of defibrillators and require they be centrally registered with the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The registry information is shared with emergency medical service dispatchers to help those trying to care for a cardiac arrest victim find the nearest defibrillator. As of Dec. 31, 2,291 AEDs were registered in Manitoba.
Defibrillators deliver an electric shock to restart a stopped heart and are programmed to detect if a person is having an irregular heart rhythm that indicates potential cardiac arrest. AEDs offer step‑by‑step instructions so training is not required. If the AED does not detect a shockable heart rhythm, the machine does not deliver a shock.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba, defibrillation used with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can dramatically improve cardiac arrest survival rates by 75 per cent or more over CPR alone.
A full list of designated public places required to have a defibrillator on site, as well as information about the types of defibrillators that are acceptable and how they must be installed and registered, is available at www.gov.mb.ca/health/aed/.