Moving Toward an AED Utopia

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Part II in a series. View part I

Earlier this week, we posted the first blog in a 2-part series as a follow up to the recent episode on CBC Marketplace in which the question was posed as to whether publicly accessible defibrillators are really that accessible.

In our first blog, we looked at the challenges associated with publicly accessible defibrillators.  In this blog, we will consider some of the solutions which are available to overcome the challenges profiled in our first story and how you can help.

AED Density

As mentioned in our earlier blog, AED density is our first challenge. Ideally, we would like to see a 75 percent survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. To achieve this, the first person/s on the scene would have to travel no more than 450 feet to reach an AED (about 90 seconds each way using a brisk walking pace of 300 feet per minute). This is an ambitious goal with a very simple solution – AEDs need to be everywhere; in our restaurants, cars, places of work and any other highly trafficked public location.

Fortunately, a couple of initiatives are underway to place AEDs into these high traffic locations:

  • In British Columbia, the Public Access to Defibrillation (PAD) Program, funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon and the Ministry of Health, will see 650 AEDs and associated training delivered to communities throughout BC. The expected impact, as articulated by Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid, will be to “save hundreds of lives”. Learn more about the BC PAD Program.
  • The Government of Canada recently announced the National AED Program – Federal AED Placement Initiative, which will see a targeted 3,000 AEDs distributed to recreational facilities, mostly arenas, across the country. The Initiative will also see 30,000 people trained in the use of AEDs. Learn more about the National PAD Program.

AED Accessibility

The second challenge we mentioned in our earlier blog is accessibility. AEDs are often placed with little regard to the possibility of their eventual use. The solution for companies and for establishments such as hotels, restaurants, recreational facilities and the like is to implement an AED program, with oversight provided by a medical director, before an AED is installed.

looking for an AED

In addition to determining, as part of the program, where an AED should be placed and what signage should appear, an AED program will also help with:

  • choosing an appropriate AED and accessories
  • setting up a servicing schedule for the AED
  • planning initial and ongoing training in the use of the AED
  • integrating the AED into your medical emergency response plan
  • liaising with local EMS providers

AED programs are designed to maximize the value of your AED and meet all the recommendations from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, WorkSafeBC, and Health Canada.

AED Awareness

Of all the components that lead to a successful AED program deployment, and hopefully, to lives being saved when the need arises, awareness is the critical issue. By talking about sudden cardiac arrest and how it can be treated with the use of an AED, we are all doing our part with raising awareness of this critical issue in the community.

In contrast to the tragic SCA incident we mentioned in our first blog, take a look at the following video profiling an NHL player who suffered SCA on the ice, and who was saved thanks to an easily accessible AED and the fast actions of his teammates and an onlooker:

As you can see, SCA can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. You never know when your CPR skills and an AED will be needed.  Take a look around at the public places you often visit and see whether you can spot the AEDs.  You might need to know one day exactly where they’re located.

Iridia is working to raise awareness of locations of AEDs through its AEDs Everywhere campaign – a crowdsourcing campaign to map the location of AEDs all around the world. The AEDs Everywhere map allows anyone to upload the location of an AED.

Learn more about the program and how to participate.

Since 1998, Iridia has overseen the training and certification of over 30,000 individuals in the use of AEDs. We currently provide AED medical direction to over 300 clients including 140+ fire rescue services.

Part II in a series. View part I

The Shocking Truth About AED Use

Part I in a series. View part II

CBC Marketplace recently aired an episode on automated external defibrillators (AEDs) – combining facts regarding their potential life-saving benefits with some disturbing findings regarding their accessibility to the public. As Iridia’s business was built on the need which our Founder, Dr. Allan Holmes, had identified to make AEDs more widely accessible, this issue is near to our hearts.  However, to fully understand the reasons why having AEDs readily available is so important, it is necessary to understand some of the facts regarding sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

SCA Facts

Up to 40,000 cardiac arrests occur each year in Canada alone. Without rapid treatment, particularly a shock delivered by an AED, most of these cardiac arrests will result in death. On average, every 1 minute delay in defibrillation will reduce survival rates by 7% to 10%.  Simple math suggests that after a 10 minute delay in defibrillation, the likelihood of survival is slim to none.  Further, if you are revived in the 7-10 minute range, the likelihood of notable brain damage and significant lifelong health ramifications thereafter is very high. 

20150401 Iridia Icon Final2474

For this, and other reasons, the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends an AED response time of three minutes or less. Fortunately, the work being done by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, both at a provincial and a national level, as well as by other organisations, is raising awareness of sudden cardiac arrest and the importance of defibrillation, with the result being that we are seeing a significant increase in the number of AEDs which are being placed in the community.  However, a number of challenges still exist.

Too Few AEDs

Applying an AED to someone in sudden cardiac arrest within the three minute response time guideline recommended by the Heart and Stroke Foundation would require that it takes no longer than 90 seconds to get to an AED, and 90 seconds to return to the SCA victim. Assuming a brisk walking pace of 300 feet per minute (not everyone responding may be able to run), means the responder would ideally have to travel no more than 450 feet to reach an AED. Current deployment for these life-saving devices is nowhere near this level of saturation. Locating an AED can often be compared to searching for a needle in a haystack.

Too Inaccessible

Beyond having an appropriate number of AEDs, there is the issue of where they should be placed.  Best practice recommends having AEDs highly visible and publically accessible; that means they can be easily reachable and the cabinets in which they are stored are unlocked.  Many AEDs installed in public locations are either hidden away and/or are under lock and key, accessible only to a limited few who may not be present during a cardiac emergency.

Too Little AED Awareness

Despite, in some instances, the above two issues having been addressed, a successful outcome after an SCA event is not guaranteed. Many individuals are still unaware of AEDs and their lifesaving benefits and would not know or think to use one in an emergency. Sadly, there was a tragic case in Calgary where a young athlete collapsed from SCA, the AED was retrieved, but nobody used it on the victim and he died. As can be seen, there are a number of issues which still need to be addressed in the quest for making AEDs more publicly accessible and raising awareness of their lifesaving benefits. 

Later this week, we will consider some of the solutions which are available to overcome the challenges associated with this.  Check in with us again to learn of these and, as always, we welcome your comments and contributions about this important issue.

 Part I in a series. View part II

Iridia Dresses Up for Jersey Day

Jersey Day

What is Jersey Day?

Friday, November 29 was a national day to show love and support for sport by wearing a jersey, team or club uniform to work. From municipal council chambers to office buildings and classrooms across the nation, the RBC Sports Day in Canada envisioned a sea of Canadians wearing their hearts on their sleeves on national Jersey Day.

This national celebration of sport, from grassroots to high-performance, was an opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate the power of sport, build community and national spirit, and facilitate healthy living.

Iridia on Jersey Day

When we first heard about Jersey Day, the Iridia team threw the gauntlet down and jumped right in – proudly showing our support. We’re passionate about our teamwork (it’s one of our core values after all), and we knew Jersey Day would offer a great opportunity to have fun and show some team spirit!

We were also very keen to support Jersey Day as it ties in to something very important to us – public access to defibrillation. There are millions of sports fans and players in Canada and every one of them is susceptible to Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). We want to help raise awareness of SCA, and Jersey Day is one of the ways we’re spreading the word.

As of October 2013, Iridia has been working with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada on a National PAD Program designed to bring Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) to arenas and recreational facilities across Canada.


The National PAD Program

In April 2012, the Federal Government of Canada announced its commitment to saving lives with AEDs by increasing access to these life-saving devices in hockey arenas and recreation centres across Canada. The Heart and Stroke Foundation is leading this unprecedented initiative, representing the largest application process for AED funding in Canada’s history. The National PAD Program will help to improve the heart safety of communities across Canada with a targeted placement of 3,000 AEDs and the training of 30,000 people in how to use AEDs. Iridia is a key distributor of AEDs for this Program and we are proud to be involved with this life-saving initiative.

Using an AED is the only way to treat SCA, a killer of up to 40,000 Canadians each year. Unlike a heart attack, SCA does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time. Survival depends on delivering a shock from an AED within the first few minutes of suffering an SCA. Coupling the early use of an AED with quality CPR can raise survival rates up to 75%.



Learn more about the National PAD Program and head over to AED for MVP – a site to help facilities around the country implement their AED programs. Having an AED will make you an MVP.

Learn why you need access to an AED here.


AEDs are Everywhere, Help us Find Them!

AEDs are Everywhere

For the past few months, we’ve found a new hobby at Iridia and we’d like to invite you to participate!

Before we get into the prizes and incentives, we ask that you take a minute to watch the following PSA created by Transport for London:


Now think about this: when and where was the last time you saw an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)?  As you’ve just learned, it’s easy to miss something you’re not looking for.

We want to change this.

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) can happen to anyone, at any time, and anywhere. You never know when your CPR skills and an AED will be needed and only when you start looking do you become aware of AEDs.

As a company that implements public AED programs, among other services, finding AEDs is kind of exciting. After a trip to Japan taken by one of our employees, she found that AEDs are everywhere – train stations, shopping centres, tourist attractions, anywhere where there was a high risk of an SCA. Photos were snapped & shared and other staff began taking photos of AEDs they had spotted on their travels. So far we have 88 photos from across North America, Asia, and Europe!

We decided to create an interactive map to show that AEDs really are everywhere. We now want this map to grow, which is why we’re inviting you to do some AED spotting as part of our first AED spotting competition to be held until December 31st, 2013.


AEDs Everywhere Map – View Fullscreen

Why should you participate?

  1. You can’t recall the last time you saw an AED.
  2. You want to win a $30 gift card to Chapters – our favourite store to promote lifelong learning.
  3. More importantly, for every unique photo of an AED, Iridia Medical will donate $1 to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon, up to a maximum of $500.

How can you participate?

  1. Find an AED.
  2. Take a photo of the AED (you can be in it too!).
  3. Email the photo and location to who will add it to the map. You can also upload the photo directly to our AEDs Everywhere map by clicking on the Add button on the top right-hand corner.
  4. Pat yourself on the back for your $1 donation.
  5. Repeat!

As you’ve learned from the PSA above, it’s easy to miss something you’re not looking for – so let’s start looking for AEDs and do some good at the same time.


Contest Details: Contest commences on December 2nd and closes on December 31st, 2013. To be entered in the contest, you must submit a photo and location of an AED to Shannon Saito or directly to the map. Submitting multiple photos will not increase your chances of winning the Chapters gift card. Submitting multiple photos will, however, increase the donation amount to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, up to a total of $500. On January 2nd 2014, we will conduct a random draw and announce the winner via social media. The winner will also be notified via email. By submitting photos to Iridia Medical, we do not own the rights to your photo -- you're simply lending us rights for specific uses (on the AEDs Everywhere map, social media, company newsletter) and submitting your photo does not preclude you from using it in any way you see fit in the future.