The province is providing more than 1,000 free defibrillators to public places to ensure the life saving help cardiac arrest victims need is nearby. This announcement was made by Premier Greg Selinger as he announced the proclamation of the Defibrillator Public Access Act.
“When cardiac arrest strikes, a defibrillator can mean the difference between life and death, so having more defibrillators will help increase the chance of survival,” said Selinger. “That’s why our government is helping to add 1,000 defibrillators to public facilities to help ensure these life saving devices are available in more places across the province in the months ahead.”
In recognition that 85 per cent of cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital, the first legislation of its kind in Canada, the Defibrillator Public Access Act, passed with all-party support in 2011 to ensure more defibrillators are available in public places, said Selinger. Following public consultations and advice from an expert advisory group including paramedics and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, new regulations were proclaimed today listing the types of public places that must have a defibrillator in place including high-traffic public facilities such as gyms, arenas, community centres, golf courses, schools and airports among others, he said.
“Just like having a fire extinguisher is a requirement in public places to help save lives, so too shall defibrillators be required in more places to dramatically improve the odds of surviving cardiac arrest,” said Health Minister Theresa Oswald. “You cannot harm a person by pressing the button on a defibrillator, but you may save a life.”
To assist facilities with installing a defibrillator, the Manitoba government has taken the following action:
• providing designated premises with over a year to acquire and install the automated external defibrillators (AEDs) by Jan. 31, 2014;
• providing funding to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba to purchase over 1,000 defibrillators to be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis; and
• partnering 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.
“We know that rapid access to a defibrillator can mean the difference between life and death during a cardiac arrest, and Manitoba’s new first-in-Canada legislation will see defibrillators become a lot more common across our province,” said Debbie Brown, chief executive officer of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba. “The Manitoba government’s funding to purchase over 1,000 defibrillators for public places is a great way to kick-start implementing this legislation and we are excited to begin accepting applications for these provincially funded defibrillators beginning Jan. 7, 2013.”
AEDs deliver an electric shock to the heart and are programmed to detect if a person is having an irregular heart rhythm that indicates potential cardiac arrest. 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.
The new legislation not only requires defibrillators to be installed at designated public places but 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 will be shared with 911 dispatchers to help those trying to care for a cardiac arrest victim find the nearest defibrillator.
“As a paramedic, I have seen the life-saving difference defibrillators make during sudden cardiac arrest before I arrive on the scene,” said Chris Broughton, a Winnipeg paramedic and president of Manitoba Government and General Employees Union Local 911. “Manitoba’s new legislation will not only ensure defibrillators are more widely available, but in those critical moments following a cardiac arrest, the legislation will assist bystanders in quickly finding and using a defibrillator in public places.”
A full list of designated public places that will be 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.manitoba.ca/health/aed.
More information is available at www.heartandstroke.mb.ca/aed legislation and applications for free defibrillators can be submitted to the Heart and Stroke Foundation starting Jan. 7.
Additional public places will be considered in future phases of the act’s implementation, subject to stakeholder consultations, the minister said