What are we missing to save a life from sudden cardiac arrest?
Nearly 40,000 Canadians die from a sudden cardiac arrest each year, with up to 6,000 of these being British Columbians. In the event of sudden cardiac arrest, bystander use of an automated external defibrillator (AED), along with CPR, is crucial and increases the chance of survival by 75% or higher. Despite this, AEDs in BC aren’t always readily available.
Currently, the majority of AEDs can be found locked behind a case in libraries, airports, city-run community centres, and office buildings - all locations with set hours. They are less commonly found places such as transit hubs, downtown cores, privately owned fitness centres, parks, schools, workplaces, condos, neighbourhoods, and more. Given the fact that sudden cardiac arrest can happen any time, day or night, it’s crucial that AEDs are placed minutes away from any public area. Due to the lack of accessibility of these lifesaving devices, public knowledge of AEDs is also lower than desired.
Also, due to the number of overdose incidents and deaths in BC, a public health emergency was declared in the province in 2016, and the situation hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. In 2020, over 1500 British Columbians died from an overdose. Given this, naloxone accessibility and education is another public safety action that is incredibly important for all communities.