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Defibrillators being installed across district

By Peggy Revell
Fort Frances Times

In the hope of saving lives, 20 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are being installed in public places across Rainy River District thanks to the combined effort of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion, Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Frank Cowan Foundation, and Rainy River District Social
Services Administration Board.
The official announcement was made prior to a mass training session on CPR and the use of AEDs that was offered free to the public last Thursday afternoon at the Memorial Sports Centre—one of the many locations where these AEDs are being placed.

“I’m delighted to be representing the Heart
and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, and joining with the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board and the Rainy River District EMS, to mark a significant step in the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s ‘Restart a Heart, Restart a Life’ campaign,” said Patti-Jo LeDrew, noting this campaign has a goal to distribute 2,000 AEDs across the province, including the 20 for this district.
These come as part of the single-largest investment in Canadian history for AEDs, made possible by a $3-million grant from the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion and Trillium Foundation (represented at Thursday’s
announcement by local resident Linda Hamilton), as well as a $1-million donation from the Frank Cowan Foundation for training.
“Far too many Canadians die each year from sudden cardiac arrest, many in public places, workplaces, and at home,” noted LeDrew. “The Heart and Stroke Foundation is making strides to prevent these occurrences.
“This historic investment of AEDs through the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s ‘Restart a Heart, Restart a Life’ program will provide
many Ontarians access to this life-saving tool and ensure safer public facilities and a safer gathering place for all,” she added.
“According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, approximately 35,000-40,000 Canadians die of sudden cardiac arrest each year,” noted Dan McCormick, manager of Health Services for the local DSSAB, who is overseeing the installation of the AEDs in the district.
“The odds of survival for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests are approximately five percent,” he noted. “With each passing minute, the possibility of survival declines by seven to 10 percent.
“In Ontario alone, approximately 7,000 cardiac arrests occur annually in out-of-hospital settings.
“However, combined with CPR, if an AED is used to provide defibrillation in the first few minutes, survival rates can improve
significantly,” McCormick said.
“When somebody goes into cardiac arrests, there really is no time for second thoughts. Immediate action is required,” he stressed. “That is why with this donation today, made possible by the Trillium Foundation and Frank Cowan Foundation, we are working with our municipal partners to ensure that six-eight personnel are trained per AED site.”
“AEDs have been proven to save lives,” echoed Morley Reeve Gary Gamsby, who also chairs the DSSAB’s land ambulance committee, as he thanked the many partners and people involved with the project.
“And with our network of AEDs, which will stretch basically from Atikokan to Rainy River to Morson, they will help us fill in the gaps between our four ambulance bases in the district,” Reeve Gamsby added.
“Some of the types of places they will be located are arenas, recreation centres, and so on, where significant crowds and people tend to gather,” he explained.
“Right now it will provide the opportunity for resuscitation of heart attack victims and will help us improve the service that we’re
providing in our communities.”
Here in Fort Frances, the AEDs will be located at the Memorial Sports Centre, Civic Centre, local Legion branch, and the DSSAB training room.
Elsewhere in the district, they will be located at the community centres in Bergland and Morson; the arena, community centre, and Legion branch in Rainy River; the community resource centres in Morley and Stratton; the municipal office complex and community centre in La Vallee; the curling rink, municipal office, arena and Legion branch in Emo; the municipal office complex and community centre in Chapple; and the arena, municipal office, swimming complex, community centre, and
Legion branch in Atikokan.
“We are very proud and happy to be able to partner with a number of different organizations in the development of this project,” said Reeve Gamsby, adding they hope to expand this network of AEDs in the district
even further down the road.
Coun. Sharon Tibbs, deputy mayor of Fort Frances, also was on hand last Thursday afternoon to extend a thank you on behalf of the mayor, council, and entire community for the defibrillators.
She noted the presence of these AEDs will give a sense of security and safety.
“And I understand they’re fairly easy to use and we can all do it, so I’m pleased to hear that,” she added.
“However, I hope that they never get used, I really and truly do,” Coun. Tibbs continued. “But if they do, they’re going to be there and
hopefully they will save somebody’s life”

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