Public Access Defibrillation
Haliburton County Public Access Defibrillating Program began in 2007.In September of that year the first AED (automatic external defibrillator) was placed at the Fort Irwin Residence Association hall. Haliburton now has more than 36 sites throughout the County from Oxtongue Lake to Harcourt Park. The sites are all at locations where many people congregate like community centers, arenas, curling clubs and all Branches of the Royal Canadian Legion. Many of the sites are run by volunteers who, on their on time, have been trained in the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). Although general oversight falls with the PAD program it could not function without the help of the site coordinators who are also mostly volunteers who ensure the AED is functioning on a monthly basis and coordinate training. The AEDs are provided by the Haliburton County PAD program with funding through the province and Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. Training is also provided by the PAD program which recently switched from an outside company and started using local paramedics to provide the training. The program has also provided six AEDs to local fire departments. The program also hosts Mass CPR courses that train large numbers of people in basic CPR in a short period of time. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation 35,000 to 45,000 cardiac arrests occur each year in Canada. In Ontario alone 7,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests occur each year the survival rate for an out of hospital arrest is 5% that rate drops by 7% to 10% with each passing minute. Defibrillation combined with CPR can improve survival rates by up to 50% if delivered within the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest. The Heart and Stroke Foundation ha come up with what they call the chain of Survival for cardiac arrests and although there are many links in the chain, early recognition (of a cardiac event), early access (911), early CPR and early defibrillation are the among the first links to the chain and are all addresses through the PAD program training and placement of an AED. These links become even more important in a county the size of Haliburton.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is sudden cardiac arrest?
A: Sudden cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heartbeat stops abruptly and unexpectedly. This usually is caused by ventricular fibrillation, when the bottom ventricle of the heart quivers uncontrollably and cannot pump blood. Rapid defibrillation is the only effective treatment for this.
Q: Is sudden cardiac arrest the same as a heart attack?
A: No. A heart attack is a condition in which a blood clot suddenly blocks a coronary artery, resulting in the death of heart muscle supplied by that artery. Heart attack victims usually experience chest pain and usually remain conscious. Heart attacks are serious and sometimes lead to sudden cardiac arrest. However, sudden cardiac arrest may occur independently from a heart attack and without warning signs. Sudden cardiac arrest results in death if not treated immediately.
Q: Who is at risk for sudden cardiac arrest?
A: While the average age of sudden cardiac arrest victims is about 65, sudden cardiac arrest is unpredictable and can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Q: What is an AED?
A: An AED, or automated external defibrillator, is a device that automatically analyzes heart rhythms and advises the operator to deliver an electric current if the heart is in ventricular fibrillation, an otherwise fatal rhythm.
Q: Do I have to be a doctor, nurse or paramedic to use an AED?
A: No. Non-medical people can use AEDs successfully after a few hours of training.
Q: How do AEDs work?
A: AEDs are automated - they take the decision making process out of the hands of rescuers and place it in an internal computer chip. They don't use paddles but instead have patches called electrodes that are easily placed on the victim's chest. The device uses a recorded message to give step-by-step instructions to the user. The AED analyses the heart and will only deliver a shock to the victim if it detects the presence of cardiac rhythms that require defibrillation. If the victim is not in cardiac arrest, the AED will not deliver the shock.
Q: What about CPR?
A: Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an integral part of the "Chain of Survival." In the absence of a defibrillator, CPR can be used from the time of collapse until the defibrillator arrives - this may extend the amount of time that a patient can still be successfully defibrillated. The probability of survival is improved if the victim receives CPR while waiting to be defibrillated.
Q: Shouldn't we wait until the ambulance arrives?
A: It is impossible in the majority of cases for paramedics to arrive at the sides of sudden cardiac arrest victims quickly enough to initiate CPR and give rapid, life-saving defibrillation. The reason is this: For every minute that passes after a sudden cardiac arrest, the chance for survival drops by 10 per cent.
Always start CPR first.
Q: What if I forget the steps for shocking a victim?
A: The steps for shocking a patient in cardiac arrest are simple and straightforward. Just follow the visual and audio prompts provided by the AED machine.
Q: Can I hurt the victim with an AED?
A: Most victims of sudden cardiac arrest will die if their hearts are not shocked right away with a defibrillator. If you follow standard procedures and routine safety precautions, your actions can only help.
Q: Can I accidentally shock myself?
A: AEDs are extremely safe when used properly. The electric shock is programmed to go from one pad to the other through the victim's chest. Basic precautions, such as not touching the victim during the shock, virtually ensure the safety of rescuers.
Q: Do all ambulances carry defibrillators?
A: Yes. All ambulances and fire response vehicles in Haliburton County carry AEDs.
Q: Should AEDs be used on children who suffer sudden cardiac arrest?
A: No. If the victim appears to be less than eight years old or appears to weigh less than 25 to 30 kilograms (55 to 65 lbs.) do not attach the AED. Instead, proceed with CPR and call 9-1-1.