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Foundation allocates 2,000 defibrillators across Ontario

BARRIE, Ont. May 2, 2008:  The Heart and Stroke Foundation today announced that 2,000 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) have now been allocated to municipalities across Ontario in an effort to increase lives saved due to cardiac arrest. 

“The initial goal of the Heart&Stroke ReStart a Heart, Restart a Life AED program was to place 1,000 units across Ontario,” said Rocco Rossi, CEO, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. “I’m pleased to announce the Foundation has nearly doubled that commitment in only two years.”

“This is the fulfillment of a dream of a young boy named Chase McEachern. Today, we are proud to say that we have helped make that dream a reality.”

After hearing that hockey greats Jiri Fischer collapsed and Mario Lemieux retired due to irregular heart beats like his, Chase, a Vaughan Kings Minor Peewee AAA player, started a campaign to make AEDs mandatory in hockey arenas and schools everywhere. Sadly, on February 9, 2006, at the age of 11, Chase collapsed during gym class and was rushed to hospital, where he passed away six days later. Working with his family, the Foundation established the Heart&Stroke Chase McEachern Tribute Fund to continue the work that Chase began.

“Our son Chase had a dream of seeing more defibrillators available in more public places to save more lives,” said John McEachern. “My wife, Dorothy, son Cole, my mother Jean and I commend the Heart and Stroke Foundation.  We are proud to see Chase’s memory honoured today.”

“This milestone could not have been made possible without the financial support of the Government of Ontario and our partners Scotiabank, The Frank Cowan Foundation, Transamerica Life Canada and SSQ Financial Group,” says Rossi.

To distribute the AEDs, Ontario municipal Emergency Management Services or equivalent were asked to assess their local needs for defibrillators and apply to the Heart and Stroke Foundation for funds for AEDs and training.  These local applications were reviewed and communities were allocated funds based on criteria including local need, response times, cardiac survival rates and local readiness to support a PAD (Public Access Defibrillator) program. 

The Heart and Stroke Foundation also announced today the allotment of 734 AEDs to be distributed as a result of this assessment process. This allotment is included in the 2,000 units allocated to date.

In addition to the 108 units already funded by the Chase McEachern Tribute Fund that have been placed across Simcoe County , the Heart and Stroke Foundation will be donating an additional 30 units to the County of Simcoe Paramedic Services.

“At the County of Simcoe our paramedics are pleased to know that more people stand a greater chance of survival with these first-responder devices in use,” said Andrew Robert, Director for the County of Simcoe Paramedic Services.

Established in April 2006, the Heart&Stroke ReStart a Heart, Restart a Life AED program and the Heart&Stroke Chase McEachern Tribute Fund, have helped provide critical resources for AEDs and training support, so that more lives can be saved.

“Scotiabank is proud to support the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario’s efforts to introduce an additional 2,000 AEDs across the province,” said Jim Karges, District Vice-President, Barrie and Muskoka, Scotiabank. In 2007, Scotiabank contributed $250,000 over three years to the Restart a Heart, Restart a Life campaign. The Bank has supported the Heart and Stroke Foundation since 1993 and contributed about $1.1 million across Canada. “This initiative is part of Scotiabank’s broader effort to support the communities in which we live and work.”

"We are pleased to be a part of this initiative with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario,” said Denise Nip of Transamerica Life Canada. “AEDs have the potential to make a huge impact on the lives of Canadians and we are very excited to assist in bringing them to more communities across the province.”

"The Frank Cowan Foundation is pleased to contribute to a great program and support communities across Ontario," said Maureen Cowan, President, The Frank Cowan Foundation.  "With the strong leadership of the Heart & Stroke Foundation we have no doubt they will achieve their objective that one day AEDs will become as commonplace as fire extinguishers in Ontario, and many more lives will be saved."

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, in Canada, about 40,000 people experience cardiac arrest each year; 7,000 cardiac arrests occur in Ontario alone.  The odds of survival for an out-of hospital cardiac arrest are approximately five per cent. With Each passing minute, the probability of survival declines by seven-to-10 per cent.  Using an AED, combined with CPR within the first few minutes, can improve survival rates from five per cent to 50 per cent or more. To support the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario’s AED initiative, donate online at: www.heartandstroke.ca/startaheart or www.heartandstroke.ca/chase.

Video - Don Cherry - Tribute to Chase McEachern