Saving lives one arena at a time

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October 21, 2014 9:09 AM

Dean Waterfield and Chris McLean with Vegreville-Wainwright MP Leon Benoit, centre, who presented Kitscoty Arena with a new portable AED. - Jon Clarke Photo

Kitscoty Arena has been gifted a portable AED machine, a medical device which will make the venue safer for sports players.

Vegreville-Wainwright MP Leon Benoit, presented the AED to Kitscoty Arena Oct. 16, and stressed the importance of such a device in any sports-centre venue.

“A lot of the cardiac arrests in young people in particular are around hockey and curling, because in both sports, often people aren’t in the finest shape when they start the season,” said Benoit. Going forward, for people who do end up suffering cardiac arrest while at the arena, “The story will end a lot better in a lot of cases, because the defibrillator is right there.”

The device comes as part of a bigger picture, the federal government’s AED Project, which aims to provide these life-saving machines to arenas, rinks and recreation centres across the country. Kitscoty Arena is just one of those venues.

“In this constituency, we’ve probably got 20 (AED receptions) we’ve announced already,” said Benoit.

The four-year, $10 million project comes as a collaborative effort between the federal government and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC), with the government providing the AEDs and the HSFC distributing them. The HSFC is also providing training for the devices, though with such an intuitive interface, very little knowledge on the operation of an AED is needed.

“It just takes a few seconds. It’s so simple. And with somebody who doesn’t have a heartbeat, you’re not going to do any damage. So there’s nothing but the upside to using it,” said Benoit.

Portable and easy to use (it comes with picture instructions), the AED at Kitscoty Arena is sure to save lives going forward. But on a national scale, through the federal AED Project, Benoit says that they will save thousands of lives nation-wide.

“For cardiac arrest, it’s extremely effective at restarting the heart. And of course this is often used in conjunction with CPR. Because CPR will not work to start the heart in most cases. But this will.”

Of the HSFC, Benoit said that “They are a great group with a good reputation throughout the country,” and that by working hand-in-hand with them, the program has become a low-cost, highbenefit endeavour.

Holding Kitscoty Arena’s new portable AED, Benoit said that “Hopefully it’s never needed,” but also that he’s “willing to bet that over the years, it will be.”

With that, he encourages any facilities that could benefit from an AED to sign up for one by searching HSF National AED Program online, and filling out a simple application.

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