Saskatoon family calls on more stores to carry AEDs

Watch above: After an AED helped to save a man’s life in Saskatoon on Friday, questions have been raised about why some stores don’t carry the device. Amber Rockliffe looks at how AEDs can help save lives.

SASKATOON – After an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) helped to save a man’s life Friday, it’s raised questions about why some stores don’t carry the device.

“There’s about 45,000 people that die each year from sudden cardiac arrest, and when it happens outside the hospital, the success rate is only about five per cent,” explained Tammy Reddekopp, the director of first aid for life.

“With the integration of CPR and all the defibrillators being put in these public places, we are now seeing success rates of as high as 75 per cent.”

John Tomchuk, 60, was loading groceries into his vehicle in the Walmart parking lot at Preston Crossing on Friday evening when he went into cardiac arrest.

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“He had collapsed, and there happened to be some nurses coming out of the store. They didn’t know each other, but they both ran to the scene, they started CPR within a minute or two of when he collapsed,” explained Tomchuk’s daughter Lisa Wass.

“In the meantime, someone else had tried to go into Walmart and find an AED machine – they don’t have one.”

A bystander then ran next door to Cabela’s, and employees at the store was able to provide an AED. Wass said it likely saved her dad’s life.

READ MORE: Man goes into cardiac arrest while loading groceries in Saskatoon

“He’s in fourth-stage heart failure, so we’ve known that there’s going to be a time when his heart just stops, and we’re just grateful that we have some time to say goodbye in a way that he’s alert and with family,” Wass explained.

Wass said her father is a loyal Walmart customer and would like an apology from the store.

“It’s really frustrating to me because they have a large number of people who have disabilities to come and shop there,” Wass said.

“They offer the scooters, they offer support back and forth from their cars, so they know there’s at-risk people shopping there. So I’m not sure why Walmart wouldn’t have a policy that could potentially save a life,” Wass said.

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“Will he shop there again? I don’t know. He’s looking for an apology from Walmart,” she said.

Global News reached out to Walmart, however the company has not responded to the request.

Watch below: Tammy Reddekopp, the director of first aid for life, says misconceptions can hold back larger corporations from installing AED machines. 

Reddekopp said an AED costs about $1,500 to $2,000, which she feels is not a lot of money for a large company.

“Costco has AEDs, the airlines have them, mining companies put them in all their workplaces,” Reddekopp explained.

Wass said her father remains in hospital in stable condition.