Near death prompts call for more portable defibs in N.L.

A St. John's man shocked back to life after going into cardiac arrest during a hockey game says portable defibrillators should be mandatory in all public places.
Chad Herridge says he owes his life to a portable defibrillator and his teammates, at St. Bon's Forum in St. John's. (CBC)

A St. John's man shocked back to life after going into cardiac arrest during a hockey game says portable defibrillators should be mandatory in all public places.

Chad Herridge, 28, lost consciousness last month at St. Bon's Forum.

"I'd be six feet under, I knows I would, if it wasn't for that machine," Herridge told CBC News. "How many more people would be? That machine saves lives and they should be everywhere."

That machine is an automated external defibrillator or AED.

Mary Ann Butt, who's with the local Heart and Stroke Foundation, couldn't agree more.

"We want to see them in all public buildings," said Butt, who is trying to ensure everyone has a chance to survive sudden cardiac arrest.

"We want employers to be aware of the benefits of having this safety equipment in place. It's no different than a fire alarm or a smoke detector. We need to make sure everyone understands the importance of having this safety equipment on site."

Sandra Tucker teaches offshore workers how to perform CPR and use the portable defibrillators.

"It's just the same as first aid; knowing how to save someone who might have choked or might have hurt themselves. It's one more step that you can do to help save a life," she said.

Tucker notes using an AED is easy. You simply press the power button, the machine analyzes the heart, and tells you exactly what to do.

"They will tell you when to start CPR, when to stop CPR, when to give a shock if a shock is needed, and the big thing there is you can't shock someone who doesn't need to be shocked. The machine is going to determine all that for you and it makes it very user friendly."

Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest rate of heart disease in Canada, meaning people here are more likely to have a heart attack and need immediate attention.

Butt says that just increases the urgency.

"We'd like to see building codes changed so that new buildings that are going in place have to put in an AED as part of their safety equipment."

She says the heart and stroke foundation is working with the province to make that happen.

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