St. John Ambulance is doing its part to help make that next trip to the beach a little bit safer.
Not to mention shopping, riding transit, going to work or just visiting a park or tourist destination anywhere in the province.
The humanitarian organization, which was founded nine centuries ago and has operated in B.C. since 1911, is embracing the benefits of modern technology, with plans to install 1,000 publicly accessible automated external defibrillators (AEDs) throughout the province.
The program, titled Start Me Up, aims to save more lives from cardiac arrest by placing defibrillator stands in as many locations as possible, both outdoors and in some indoor spaces as well.
So far, the charity has placed four stands in the Lower Mainland, including at the St. John Ambulance head office on Cambie Street in Vancouver, and at two locations along the Canada Line in Richmond, according to a release issued Thursday (Feb. 25) by SJA.
In South Surrey, one of the stands is located in Crescent Beach, at Beecher Place (12160 Beecher St.) with plans for a second to be installed in the neighbourhood soon.
The stands, which also house a cabinet containing naloxone and first aid kits, cost about $7,600 each to purchase and another $500 to install.
Funding for the South Surrey AED was provided through a grant from the City of Surrey, with the balance picked up by the Crescent Beach Property Owners Association.
So far, none of the stands have needed to be used, but they are kept unlocked at all times to ensure they can be accessed in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest – a medical emergency that claims up to 40,000 lives each year in Canada.
Almost 80 per cent of all cases of cardiac arrest occur outside of a hospital setting, with a survival rate of only five per cent, the release notes.
“Bystander use of an AED, along with CPR, increases the chance of survival of sudden cardiac arrest upwards of 75 per cent,” said Leanne Strachan, campaign lead for Start Me Up BC and manager of strategic partnerships for St. John Ambulance – BC & Yukon.
“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 interim CEO Ken Leggatt.
“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.”
Because St. John Ambulance is a charity, community and corporate support is appreciated to be able to place more community defibrillators, said Leggatt.
The location of each defibrillator is left up to the client or group that is funding the stand, however if they are unsure about where to place it in the community, SJA will recommend an appropriate space.
Donations toward the Start Me Up program can be made at supportsja.ca.
To learn more about the campaign and get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.