KAWARTHA LAKES-On Monday January 2, Buffalo Bills Damar Hamlin collapsed from cardiac arrest on the field just after being tackled. He was revived with CPR and an AED. Experts say the use of automatic external defibrillator (AED) use remains disappointingly low. However, when cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is performed and an AED is used the survival rate doubles.
“The unexpected cardiac arrest of the 24-year-old Hamlin, highlights the need for everyone to learn CPR and how to use an AED, because they can save lives” says Roberta Scott, Chief Communications Officer of the AED Foundation of Ontario.
Cardiac arrest is an “electrical” problem: the heart goes into an erratic rhythm, cannot pump blood and stops entirely. It’s a medical emergency. An AED is used when someone is experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest. During the arrest, the AED will analyze the persons heart, and send a shock through the heart to reset the normal rhythm. AED’s are located throughout the community, in public and private buildings, in schools, and sports facilities. No training is required to use one, as they will provide visual and audio instructions when you turn them on. Additionally, the 911 operator will guide you how to perform CPR and use the AED.
Unfortunately, most people don’t know what they are or where to find them and in Ontario less than 10 percent are registered with 911, which makes it challenging to utilize these life saving devices in an emergency event.
Dr. Paul Dorian, former Director of Cardiology at University of Toronto says, “we fervently hope for a speedy and full recovery from this tragic cardiac arrest. The prompt and expert treatment of Mr. Hamlin and immediate use of a defibrillator highlight the vital importance of preparedness for cardiac emergencies and the value of having an AED immediately available in these situations.”
Dr. Katherine Allan, a PhD researcher with Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital and co-chair of CARE (Cardiac Arrest Response and Education), who specializes in cardiac arrest research in young people, says “around 35,000 Canadians each year suffer a sudden cardiac arrest, around 7,000 in Ontario.” “You may think it can’t happen to you, but it can happen to anyone at any time, so it’s really important that people know how to save a life.
In 2020 the Government of Ontario passed the Defibrillator Registration and Public Access Act to support the creation of a provincial AED registry and set the stage for mandatory placement of AEDs in all public spaces across the province. With this legislation, Dr. Allan expressed that “Ontario is poised to be a leader in the creation of a comprehensive and coordinated cardiac arrest response system. We encourage quick implementation of the regulations to ensure all Ontarians are protected with robust access to public AEDs as soon as possible.”
CARE and the AED Foundation of Ontario are partners in the promotion, advocacy, and education of AEDs in the community. The AED Foundation of Ontario is a nonprofit agency dedicated to improving sudden cardiac arrest survival. Their vision is to dramatically improve accessibility to AEDs through the creation of a central registry and 911 integration, promote AED use through marketing and media, advocate through partnerships and research, and educate with simple and effective programs.
Visit the AED Foundation of Ontario here: www.aedfoundationontario.ca to learn about our mission to create an AED Registry and improve sudden cardiac arrest survival.