York is putting its heart into saving lives. The University now has five portable automatic external defibrillators (AEDs), making it one of the largest institutions in Toronto to get the life-saving devices.
An AED can dramatically increase a cardiac arrest victim”s chances of survival from that of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) alone.
York”s Security Services, in conjunction with the Department of Occupational Health and Safety and School of Kinesiology and Health Science, purchased the AEDs as part of the Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) Program, an initiative sponsored by Toronto”s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the Cardiac Safe City Program.
“The aim of the program is to save lives by putting essential emergency medical equipment into the hands of trained responders who arrive at the scene during the crucial first minutes following cardiac arrest,” says Richard Pilkington, operations manager in York”s Security Services.
Pilkington says that defibrillation administered within the first four minutes of a cardiac arrest can increase a victim”s chances of survival from less than five per cent to more than 50 per cent. This is particularly important at York given the population (approximately 50,000 students, faculty and staff) and increasing complexity of its campuses.
York Security Services personnel, who respond to all campus medical emergencies, have been specially trained to use the AED device. The device takes away much of the guess work in administering first aid by guiding the device operator with a display screen and voice prompts. Using pads and sensors applied to the victim”s chest, the AED assesses whether it is necessary to deliver an electrical shock to restore a normal heart rhythm and when the attendant should resume CPR.
Garrie Wright, Cardiac Safe City and PAD coordinator with Toronto EMS says, “York University has demonstrated tremendous commitment and leadership through its participation in the program and signals to other large employers and institutions the importance of early defibrillation in saving someone”s life.”
York”s three campus patrol vehicles are equipped with the devices (two cars at the Keele campus and one at Glendon). Two of the AEDs are located at York”s Tait McKenzie athletic complex.
York will officially launch its participation in the program on Wednesday, March 5, during its health fair taking place in the Vari Hall rotunda, 10am-3pm. The launch will include hands-on AED and CPR demonstrations.