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Local paramedics working to make AEDs more accessible

The Perth County Paramedic Service is revamping its efforts to make automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) more accessible to those who need them when they need them.

At the July 4 Perth County council meeting, paramedic service deputy chief of program development Chris Keyser presented a report to council outlining the service’s plans for coordinating and revamping the Public Access Defibrillation (PAD) program. According to Keyser’s report, PAD aims to streamline and ensure consistent service delivery to the public, enhance accessibility and ensure AEDs in public places comply with provincial requirements and best practices.

The revamp of the program will include technological upgrades, the replacement of older units and the potential expansion of AED coverage across Perth County.

“The program started in 2008, evolved over time including more and more grants from the Heart & Stroke (Foundation). The grants dried up, so we’ve launched more of a program to regionalize, take care of things, make sure everything’s in order as legislation moves forward,” Keyser said. “ … To date, we’ve replaced 23 units, taken the opportunity to upgrade our technology and do some training for facilities staff.

“That has also helped us increase our complement of spare AEDs that we can use for our cardiac-loan programs or for the loaner programs for events people can apply for through the county website, as well as provide us opportunities to identify other areas that need to have AEDs for certain events such as the Fullarton ball diamond when they have tournaments.”

As part of this program, Kesyer said the paramedic service intends to update current program policies, conduct a system-wide analysis of the PAD program and work with its municipal partners to inventory AEDs in public spaces that were not initially associated with the original program. That inventory, Keyser said, is crucial for updating records and ensuring comprehensive coverage and maintenance of all AED units within the county.

During the discussion that followed, Coun. Jerry Smith asked Keyser whether the paramedic service will create a publicly accessible map of AEDs in the county to help people find one when or before they need it. Keyser said he and his IT staff are looking at options for providing the most-accessible map to the public. Whatever map they land on, he continued, will need that up-to-date inventory of all public AEDs in the county.

Coun. Jim Aitcheson also asked Keyser whether the paramedic service will address how AEDs kept inside public buildings can be accessed by residents after hours when those buildings are locked.

“Improving accessibility will be one key of the program as we move forward,” Keyser said. “With the introduction of digital systems that allow for entry and things like that, we do have options to be able to provide 911 access codes … through the dispatch registry, but that’s something each facility has to come onboard with and then we may have to move locations and provide a safety net so we can protect the security of our facilities at the same time.

“So yes, there are different options we’re looking at and I’m also open to suggestions from you or your staff on how to improve accessibility. There are also outdoor cases – there’s one in Perth South. They’re very costly because they have to be temperature and humidity controlled to protect the device itself.”

At the beginning of this year, Keyser said paramedic services used capital-replacement funding to purchase 27 new AED units. In response to a question about unit price from Coun. Dean Trentowsky, Keyser said they normally cost around $2,500 each, all in, however Perth County Paramedic Service’s good relationship with the provider and the service’s ability to trade in older units has resulted in some savings.

Going forward, Keyser said the paramedic service will regularly present reports to county council on the progress of the PAD program.


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