Last week PM Stephen Harper announced the Government of Canada will be investing $10 Million to outfit as many as 3000 arenas with life-saving defibrillators.

“We have the technology and we know that it works,” Harper said. “We know that with minimal training, defibrillators are easy to use. We know that by making these devices more readily available, fast treatment will save lives.”

Automated defibrillator

Automated defibrillator

This is an idea whose time has come.  Cote Saint-Luc has had defibrillators in place in its arena and City Hall / Library complex for more than 10 years and has since added additional units at the outdoor pool, ACC and tennis club.  At a relatively low-cost these easy-to-use defibrillators save lives.  They should be required in every major gathering spot, just as fire extinguishers or first aid kits are.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, which is working with the government on the program, 40,000 Canadians experience a sudden cardiac arrest each year, and only about five per cent of them survive.

It’s not uncommon for people to suffer heart attacks and strokes in rinks and arenas, many which already have defibrillators installed.

I have personally performed CPR about 125 times during my EMS and Urgences Santé career.  I have personally witnessed that early bystander CPR followed by rapid defibrillation and advanced life support is critical in those precious minutes that invariably mean whether a patient will be revived or not.

With automated defibrillators now sold at the retail level there is no reason they can’t be made more widely available.  Federal funding is a good jumpstart.