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‘Start me up’: Charity wants to put 1,000 public defibrillators across B.C.

St. John Ambulance initiative hopes to save more lives from cardiac arrest
AED St John Ambulance BC
The goal of Start Me Up BC is to install 1,000 publicly accessible AEDs across B.C.

St. John Ambulance BC and Yukon (SJA) has launched a campaign to save more lives from sudden cardiac arrest. 

The goal of 'Start Me Up BC' is to install 1,000 publicly-accessible automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in communities across the province, and can be placed anywhere, such as a workplace, beach, park, downtown core, transit hub or a tourist hot spot.

SJA explains the stands are kept unlocked to ensure the public can access an AED on a 24/7 basis in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest, a medical emergency that takes up to 40,000 Canadian lives each year.

It adds almost 80 per cent of all cases occur near a hospital with a survival rate of just five per cent.

The charity has already placed four stands in the lower mainland:

  • Crescent Beach in Surrey
  • Outside SJA's head office in Vancouver
  • Two along the Canada Line at Brighouse and Bridgeport stations

“Bystander use of an AED, along with CPR, increases the chance of survival of sudden cardiac arrest upwards of 75 per cent. Despite this, AEDs in BC aren’t always readily available or accessible. This is why Start Me Up BC was developed,” said SJA spokesperson and 'Start Me Up BC' campaign lead Leanne Strachan.

“We believe that through this campaign, more communities will recognize their role in saving lives from emergencies like sudden cardiac arrest and be empowered to take action.”

Outside of housing an AED, every stand is set to include first-aid and naloxone kits for more resources and awareness for a number of emergency situations, such as an opioid overdose.

“Whether it’s a sudden cardiac arrest, head injury, or a sprain, we want to provide as many tools as possible and the reassurance needed to help anyone step in as a bystander with our stands,” said Ken Leggatt, interim CEO for SJA BC and Yukon.

“The opioid crisis has shown no signs of slowing down, with over 1,500 British Columbians dying in 2020, so adding a naloxone kit was no question. We hope these stands can make a difference in more ways than one in 2021.”

For more information about the initiative, you're encouraged to visit the St. John Ambulance website.

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