Knowing where defibrillators are located could save a life

Fire chief hopes to provide defibrillator training to senior high school students this year


By Barb McKay


When it comes to lifesaving equipment, and education, there is no such thing as having too much.


In the Municipality of Kincardine, there are 34 automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Most are owned and maintained by the municipality and are located in public places like arenas, municipal facilities and schools, but increasingly community groups and businesses are purchasing the lifesaving equipment to place in their buildings.


An AED is a portable electronic device that diagnoses life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia at the press of a button and applies an electronic shock to return the heartbeat to a normal rhythm. Municipality of Kincardine Fire Chief Kent Padfield invited The Independent to the Kincardine fire hall last week for an AED demonstration and said the equipment is put into use once or twice each year. Most recently, a defibrillator was used by Kincardine Bulldogs team staff and local firefighters when a man suffered a cardiac incident during a hockey game at the Davidson Centre last month.


“They do not get used very often, but we want to have them in the right places at the right times,” Padfield said.


The municipality acquired its first defibrillators approximately eight years ago. The use of portable defibrillators was becoming more commonplace thanks to the efforts of a young Barrie boy, Chase MacEachern – a talented young hockey player with a heart condition. After learning that NHLer Jiri Fischer collapsed on the ice due to an irregular heartbeat, Chase began a campaign to have AEDs placed in schools and arenas across Canada.


Chase died in 2006 at the age of 11 after suffering a cardiac incident during gym class at school but his parents continued the effort to bring his dream to fruition. They gained the support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation to establish the Chase MacEachern Tribute Fund, which funds the purchase of AEDs to be placed in public places. Padfield said the municipality has been fortunate to have its devices funded 100 per cent by the foundation.


Portable defibrillators are located at the Kincardine municipal administration centre, Underwood community centre, Whitney Crawford Community Centre, public libraries, Kincardine Centre for the Arts, at the Kincardine marina office and at each of the public schools. There are four AEDs at the Davidson Centre – located in the gymnasium, in the arena, at the ramp to the pool area and at the pool deck. There are privately-owned AEDs in Kincardine dental offices, at Nicol Insurance and at Gordon Pharmasave, as well as at the Kincardine Legion, Kincardine Curling Club and other service club buildings. Each municipally-owned device has the address of the facility where it is located directly on it for 911 calls.


Bruce County paramedics and Municipality of Kincardine firefighters provide training on how to use the devices. Padfield said AED training is now a component of first aid training and the devices are easy to use. The person who activates the device is prompted to check if the individual who is in distress has vital signs and then call 911. The AED provides instructions for when to apply chest compressions and when to use the chest pad.


“A defibrillator will never complicate the situation for someone in cardiac arrest – it will make it easier,” Padfield said, “because even if it has been years since you took CPR training the machine will walk you through it.”


Maintaining the AEDs is equally as important as having them and the fire department checks each device on a monthly basis to make sure that it will work properly and has not expired. Padfield said there are no locations in particular that the department is considering for AED placement but it is open to having more. For 2018, he would like to work with Fire Prevention Officer Shane Watson to take defibrillator training to Kincardine and District Secondary School students, along with fire safety training and CPR to prepare senior students who will be heading off to college and university.