In 1997, a British Columbia mill suffered a heart-wrenching loss when one of its staff members collapsed and died of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). The only remedy for an SCA is the delivery of an electric shock that acts to reset the heart’s electrical rhythms – a shock deliverable by an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Unfortunately, that shock must come quickly. For every minute that passes without shock delivery, a person’s chance of survival is reduced by 10%. In 1997, only ambulance attendants and fire rescue personnel had access to AEDs, and on that day, neither could get to the mill in time with the life-saving AED.
This event, while tragic, led to the formation of Iridia Medical, a BC-based company passionate about broader access to AEDs. Founded by Dr. Allan Holmes, an emergency-trained physician, Iridia has worked in the intervening years to implement comprehensive AED programs for hundreds of workplaces across the province and throughout Canada.
And then came February 6th, 2013, a particularly special day in our company’s history.
Gathered alongside representatives of the Ministry of Health, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon (HSFBCY), and the British Columbia Ambulance Service (BCAS), our team helped bring forward the announcement that a province-wide Public Access Defibrillation Program initiative was launching.
Kicked off with a highly effective Public Service Announcement and an awareness campaign, the BC PAD Program initiative, funded by the HSFBCY and the Ministry of Health, will see 650 AED units 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”. Indeed, with increased access to AEDS, each of the 2000 SCA deaths reported annually in BC has the potential to be avoided. This was exactly the case for Anna Shanh, an SCA survivor, who shared her survival story with those at the launch. It was a stark reminder for us all that SCA doesn’t discriminate; even the young, fit, non-smoking and non-drinking among us are at risk.
In participating in the launch and seeing the efforts invested to bring it to life, we could not be more proud to be the PAD initiative’s exclusive AED provider. We look forward to working with communities throughout the province as well as with the exceptional teams at both the HSFBCY and BCAS. We share CEO Diego Marchese’s view that this has the potential to be one of the best programs in Canada, and we look forward to playing our role in ensuring that it is.
For more information and video about the BC PAD Program, visit the BC Government newsroom: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2013/02/bc-increases-access-to-defibrillators.html