County installs 400th AED at Collus 0
From left, Valerie Holland, Robert Duquette (coordinator of Simcoe County's Public Access Defibrillation program), Sandra Page (Heart & Stroke Association), Deputy-warden Harry Hughes, Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper, Andrew Robert (Simcoe County paramedics chief), and Collus CEO Ed Houghton, at the presentation of the 400th AED to be distributed in Simcoe County. The unit will be placed in a Collingwood Utility Services water truck.
COLLINGWOOD - Simcoe County installed its 400th automated external defibrillator in Collingwood, Thursday morning, handing over the milestone unit to Collingwood's public utility services.
The unit, which is used to administer a shock to an individual in cardiac arrest, will travel in one of the PUC's water trucks, and is the fifth unit to ride in a vehicle owned by Collus.
Collus president and CEO Ed Houghton said Collus began outfitting its vehicles with the unit, commonly referred to as an AED, a couple of years ago as a health and safety measure for employees of the utility.
However, he noted, Collus employees are also dealing with members of the public all the time, "and they see lots of people who could potentially have these (cardiac) issues.
"We understand the importance of the safety of our employees, and the safety of the public," he said.
The distribution of the units is the result of a partnership between Simcoe County and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, and has seen the units placed in public places across the county, including schools, businesses, and recreational facilities.
Simcoe County paramedics chief Andrew Robert said AEDs are an effective tool in preventing death as a result of cardiac arrest.
"We know we can't have an emergency responder three minutes around the corner from a cardiac arrest," he said. "We are arming residents with the knowledge that can make the difference between life and death."
Houghton, who is also executive director of public works, and Collingwood's acting CAO, also noted two of his predecessors - public works director Ken Astill, and former CAO Carman Morrison - who both died of cardiac arrest following hockey games at the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena; a unit has since been placed in the arena.
"Ken and Carman were big parts of this community, and if we had these, we may have been able to save their lives as well," said Houghton.
The distribution of publicly-accessible AEDs was the brainchild of 11-year-old Chase McEachern, an 11-year-old Barrie boy who was inspired after seeing former Detroit Red Wing Jiri Fischer collapse on the bench during an NHL game. Chase suffered the same cardiac problem as Fischer, and urged his parents to carry on the campaign after he collapsed on his school's gym floor.
Chase died in 2006 in hospital while awaiting heart surgery.
"Chase single-handedly launched the campaign in Simcoe County to see (AEDs) installed in arenas and schools," said Sandra Page of the Heart & Stroke Foundation.
In Ontario, as a result of Chase's dream, said Page, about 24,000 people have been trained to use an AED, and about 3,000 units have been installed in public places.
In the province, about 40 people have been saved as a result of a publicly-placed AED, including seven in Simcoe County; on Tuesday, five members of Wasaga Distribution were honoured for their efforts to save the life of a 53-year-old man, using CPR and an AED they had in their work vehicle.
Houghton said it may be time to consider installing the units in the municipality's public works vehicles.
"I would hope we would never have to use it, but it would be there," he said.