Sudden Life

Sudden Life

Creating a Cardiac Safe Waterfront Neighbourhood

On Feb. 5, the anniversary of Randy Boyle’s passing, his widow Sharon woke to the news that not only was his memorial SaveStation crowdfunding campaign fully funded – they had doubled the original target with no signs of slowing down.

The communities of Barrie and Midhurst rallied behind the Boyle family and their campaign to install an outdoor Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in honour of a beloved husband and father who was lost too soon to a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Fast forward to now, just a few months later, and at more than four times the original amount raised to date through the campaign, Sharon is planning a second outdoor SaveStation AED installation with the help of Action First Aid.

Sadly, losing a loved one is sometimes what it takes for someone to recognize the importance of having timely access to an AED, explained Action’s Partnership Manager Katrysha Gellis. It is her job to help educate communities, organizations and individuals about the importance of 24/7 publicly accessible AEDs. She and Action’s team of AED experts help identify the most appropriate defibrillators and housing options for outdoor placements and can deliver training programs that help people feel confident and prepared to step in and take action during an emergency. They even help create and host fundraising campaigns through their online SaveStation crowdfunding platform to help rally your friends and neighbours to the cause. To learn more about this option, visit online or view some of the many educational video resources that are available for anyone to watch and share at:

“Especially when we think of cottage neighbourhoods, down a long, windy gravel road or on an island for example, they are oftentimes quite remote, even when there is a good road, it can take a long time for first responders to arrive.” she said. “For every minute that goes by after SCA strikes, the chances of survival decrease by 10% and brain damage can start to set in after just about four minutes, so every second matters – it is critical to start chest compressions right away to keep blood flowing to the person’s organs and use an AED as soon as possible to deliver a life-saving shock to their heart to give that person the greatest chance of survival.”

Every year approximately 40,000 Canadians suffer SCA outside the protective confines of a hospital, but unfortunately there is currently only a 10% survival rate and few victims make it without some level of brain damage – response time makes all the difference. Gellis beat those odds herself six years ago, when, despite being very fit and active with no family history of such medical issues, her own heart suddenly stopped beating at just 30 years old. “I was eating lunch at work one second and the next I collapsed suddenly and wasn’t breathing,” she explained. “My coworkers started CPR and called 911 immediately and I was lucky there happened to be a team of firefighters right around the corner just finishing another call and they got to me with a defibrillator in just two minutes.” Even under ideal urban conditions, response times can average six to 12 minutes, she said, adding rural areas can be much longer.

“We want to flip those statistics by helping people protect their communities, one publicly accessible AED at a time,” she said. “SaveStation’s mission is to save more lives from sudden cardiac arrest and it comes down to three important pillars: Providing access, awareness and education for AEDs. Just one person can create life-saving change.”

While the uptake has been slower in our area than some, there are already six SaveStation AED units installed in and around nearby Chaffey’s Locks. Although there are many AED models and outdoor configurations to consider, Gellis said that a typical waterfront property owner could install a 24/7 accessible heated and ventilated SaveStation cabinet with a life-saving AED on the side of their dwelling for under $3,200. That’s not a lot when you consider the difference a unit like this can make in an emergency.

“The more locations the better,” she concluded. “Given the statistics it’s not a case of if someone will suffer from SCA again, it’s a matter of when – will you be prepared when it happens?”

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