The resuscitation of two Newfoundland hockey players, whose hearts had stopped, is highlighting the importance of public defibrillators.

An off-duty firefighter used one of the small machines to re-start a man's heart after he collapsed while playing hockey in St. John's.

Mary Ann Butt

Mary Ann Butt, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, believes there should be defibrillators in more public places. (CBC)

It was the second incident of heart attacks at a hockey rink in a week, with another player being saved with the use of CPR in Gander on Sunday. The players who suffered the heart attacks in both cases are currently recovering.

The two incidents have brought attention to the usefulness of having people around that are trained in CPR and other lifesaving techniques. It has also highlighted the importance of having public defibrillators or AED's, as they're also called, in public buildings. 

Currently there are defibrillators installed in every hockey rink in Newfoundland and Labrador, but there is a push from a local group to get them in places other than where people play sports.

Mary Ann Butt, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, said that while every stadium in the province should now have a life-saving device, they should be in all buildings used by the public.

"We advocate strongly for hockey rinks, schools, for any business leader out there who has a gathering place or company where he has a lot of people, to step forward and put this critical equipment in place," said Butt.

"The reality for us here in Newfoundland is we have up to 800 cardiac arrests every year — 85 per cent of those happen outside the hospital setting."

'If you're using both the CPR and AED in conjunction, within minutes, you have a 75 per cent success rate.' - Mary Ann Butt, CEO Heart and Stroke Foundation NL

Butt believes that because the province has higher numbers of heart attacks and strokes, more defibrillators in public places is a must.

Since 2010, there have been 170 AED's placed in hockey rinks around Newfoundland and Labrador, making it the first province to ensure that every stadium has the device.

Butt said there have been five lives saved so far this year using a public defibrillator, which should be enough motivation for organizations and facilities to purchase one.

"Any business leader out there who has a gathering place, a company, please step forward and put this critical equipment in place, just like you would your fire extinguisher." 

The equipment costs less than $2,000, but the Heart and Stroke Foundation currently provides a comprehensive service for schools where they install the AED, train up to eight people and provide the materials to the staff for a cost of $2,800. 

AED Demo

Members of the Heart and Stroke Foundation demonstrate how to use an AED. (CBC)

Butt also emphasized that when someone is having cardiac arrest, the initial minutes immediately after it happens are extremely crucial. 

"With each minute you lose the ability to save a life," she said.

"If you're using both the CPR and AED in conjunction, within minutes, you have a 75 per cent success rate."

With files from Ariana Kelland