Some defibrillators in public places help bystanders save lives in cases of cardiac arrest. (CBC)

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of P.E.I. has launched a new program to cover the cost of automated, external defibrillators (AEDs) for selected facilities in the province.

The devices make it possible for non-medical personnel to save lives by monitoring heart rhythms and delivering an electric shock if the heart has stopped beating effectively.

Charlotte Comrie, CEO of the Heart and stroke Foundation of P.E.I., said the numbers show clearly that AEDs, coupled with proper CPR, save lives.

"Out of hospital survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest without CPR and an AED are only 5 per cent ... with CPR and immediate shock those numbers can go up to 30 to 50 per cent," she said.

The Island program is part of a national effort to distribute AEDs.

So far, the foundation on P.E.I. has money to pay for five machines, which can cost up to $6,000 each. Training is provided as well.

Comrie said that a number of factors are taken into consideration when deciding what organizations receive the machines.

"How much traffic do they get? Are they participants in other Heart and Stroke Foundation programs? Do they have a clientele or people who visit who are perhaps at more risk than others?"

So far, one of the defibrillators has gone to the Tignish Co-Op Health Centre and the other to the Clyde River Community Centre.

Meanwhile, Recreation P.E.I. has a grant program that pays for some of the costs of defibrillators. So far 34 facilities across the Island have taken part in that program.