By Jim Hynes
McGillians urged to learn locations of AED units
McGill has recently purchased and installed 30 additional Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), bringing the number of AED units on its campuses to 51. The University is now urging all members of the McGill Community to familiarize themselves with the location of the defibrillators, especially those nearest to one’s regular places of work or study.
Defibrillators save lives: The proof is right here at McGill – at both campuses in fact.
In 2008, an Urgences Santé technician used an AED to save the life of a stricken Financial Services employee who had Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) performed on her by a group of colleagues. That same year, a McGill Security Services agent on the Macdonald Campus successfully used an AED to save an employee there.
Save lives safely
“After the two incidents where we recognized the real value of these units, it was pretty easy to get the support and launch them across the University, because we reached the point where there was now an expectation they be made available to the public,” said Wayne Wood, Associate Director, University Safety, in the office of Environmental Health and Safety. “We’ve come full circle in that when AEDs first hit the market there was caution. Think about it: you are administering an electrical charge to a person in a health crisis. There was some concern initially, but now it has been well-established that these machines are safe to use.”
AEDs are used in when someone’s heart goes into fibrillation, usually in response to a cardiac crisis: In fibrillation, the heart still sends out electrical impulses, but those impulses are no longer in an orderly fashion and the heart is no longer able to pump blood. CPR can be used to continue to circulate a person’s blood and keep them alive while awaiting medical intervention, but will seldom bring the heartbeat back. The AED machine may ask the user to start performing chest compressions to start circulating some freshly oxygenated blood, just as it may say to start administering a current to get the heart to start beating again. AEDs decide on their own what the right time is to administer a current, so the risk of someone making a mistake is removed. Indeed, the user-friendliness of the units is one of the main reasons medical experts now recommend they be made available to the public.
McGill has had AEDs for a number of years, first in Security vehicles and later in locations where a risk for cardiac arrest was identified, like arenas and sports complexes.
“But this is the first time that we’ve purchased more than a few units, the first time that we approached it in a systematic matter,” Wood said. “We looked at the campuses and approached it priority by priority, identifying the best locations for them.”
All of the units at McGill are linked to McGill Security Services: if someone opens a door to one of the units, a signal is sent to Security. A local alarm will also sound, alerting anyone in the area to the crisis at hand.
“All of that added significantly to the cost,” Wood said, “but we think it was worth it.”
Urgences Santé has also been provided with the location of each unit. If someone calls 911 to report a cardiac crisis, the operator can tell them if there is a unit nearby.
AEDs are easy to use, but the University recommends, as always, that people take a basic First Aid course, where AED instruction, along with CPR, is now a standard part of the training.
To see the location of the AED units go to: www.mcgill.ca/ehs/training/firstaid/aed/location.
Register for a First Aid training course organized by the office of Environmental Health and Safety here: www.mcgill.ca/ehs/training/firstaid/
View videos presenting maintenance and operation instructions of the new AED’s at: www.heartsine.com/flash/demos/demo_index.html