Ottawa

Heart attack survivors keep life-saving AEDs close to home

Two Ottawa men whose lives were saved by defibrillators are hoping to do the same for others by installing the devices outside their homes.

Paul Dogra attached defibrillator to his house after nearly dying at hockey rink

Paul Dogra almost died after going into cardiac arrest while playing hockey in 2017. He was revived thanks to a defibrillator. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Two Ottawa men whose lives were saved by defibrillators are hoping to do the same for others by installing the devices outside their homes.

In March 2017, when he was only 46, Paul Dogra went into cardiac arrest while playing recreational hockeyat the University of Ottawa.

"I … pretty much died on the ice and came back," said Dogra on Sunday.

Dogra never thought it would happen to him — he'd been playing hockey three to four times a week, and wasn't the oldest one out there. 

The only symptom Dogra experienced in the months leading to his heart attack was fatigue, which he chalked up to a busy work and home life, with two kids also playing the sport. 

The defibrillator in enclosed in a heated case so it doesn't freeze in the winter and the battery doesn't die. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

'Guardian angels' came to rescue

"Honestly, you feel invincible — like, 'Aw, it's not going to happen to me.' But guess what? It did," said Dogra.

Two players and a doctor at the rink came to his aid. An automated external defibrillator, or AED, was used by university employee Yves Goyette before the ambulance arrived.  

"When he stopped breathing … everything just basically slowed down and I just focused on what I had to do," said Goyette. 

"Thankfully to my guardian angels, it worked out," Dogra said. "But I'm hoping that this will bring awareness."

Dogra said the defibrillator is his way of repaying the neighbours who supported him through his recovery. 

"When I was in the hospital, we were kind of overwhelmed with the … love and support that we received," said Dogra. 

A heated cabinet keeps Dogra's defibrillator from freezing and the battery strong. When it's opened, it takes a picture and alerts Dogra and a few other neighbours that it's needed.

Paul Dogra went into cardiac arrest and nearly died while playing hockey last year. He was revived by rescuers with a defibrillator — now, he's making sure others have access to the life-saving device. 0:45

The unit also has GPS to track where it's taken. People, however, should still call 911 when using it.

Dogra is planning an information session Dec. 1 on how to use the defibrillator. He covered the cost of the $5,000 unit himself and is now fundraising for a second defibrillator to be installed elsewhere.

Friend following suit

Dogra's friend, Chris Troughton, is following suit in his Kanata South neighbourhood.

Over the past eight years, Troughton has had 12 heart attacks and has had to be revived with a defibrillator four times. 

Now, he's also installed one of the devices on the side of his house, in part because he lives three minutes away from an outdoor rink that doesn't have one.

Left to right: Paul Dogra, Yves Goyette, and Chris Troughton show off the newly installed public defibrillator on the side of Dogra's home. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

"It's the kind of thing that you want [to have] hanging in your house but never get used. But if it is there, it can make a difference in saving a life," said Troughton. 

Troughton said he hopes other communities take up the idea. 

"Having something like this in your community, being proactive, having tools in the toolbox can save a life … it's a no-brainer," said Troughton.

Troughton is also planning to hold an information session on his device on Nov. 30.

About the Author

Krystalle Ramlakhan is a multi-platform journalist with CBC Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I., Winnipeg and Iqaluit.