‘It could happen to anyone’: Call for 1,000 public defibrillators gains traction in Vancouver
Esmeralda Gomez holds her teenage son, Alex, a little tighter these days after almost losing him to cardiac arrest three summers ago.
“I’m still scared of it happening again,” Gomez said, recalling the day when Alex, who was 14 at the time, collapsed while working out near their home at the Surrey Sports & Leisure Complex. It took the electrical shock of an automated external defibrillator (AED) to bring his pulse back online.
“Doctors and emergency responders credited the nearby lifeguards’ quick use of an AED for saving his life,” said Gomez.
Alex, now 17, has a cardioverter-defibrillator in his chest to monitor his heartbeat and deliver electrical impulses or shocks in case it wanes from diagnosed supraventricular tachycardia (rapid heart rate).
It’s why the Gomez family is calling on more Metro Vancouver municipalities, schools and businesses to install publicly accessible AEDs.
On Tuesday, Vancouver will decide whether a thousand publicly-accessible defibrillator cabinets with naloxone kits should be installed throughout the city.
Councillor Pete Fry’s motion would see the devices at high-traffic locations, including city facilities, transit hubs, public spaces, and new developments.
“I want the city to find a creative way to fund these devices without using taxpayer dollars,” Fry said. “Maybe developers can sponsor their cost.”
The $7,500 AED cabinets, designed by first aid charity St. John Ambulance, are temperature-controlled and wirelessly accessible, said CEO Ken Leggatt, who noted that sudden cardiac arrest is the cause of death for 6,000 British Columbians each year.