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Walmart Canada mulls adding defibrillators to stores

Watch above: A man suffered a heart attack over the weekend in the parking lot of a Saskatoon Walmart but bystanders had to go to another big box store for a defibrillator. Joel Senick finds out why the giant retailer is without and whether it’s considering changing that.

SASKATOON – Walmart Canada is considering installing automated external defibrillators (AED) in their stores, according to a corporate affairs official. On March 20, a man went into cardiac arrest in the parking lot of Walmart’s Preston Crossing location, where there was no device inside the store.

“We are in the process of evaluating the need and feasibility for our stores to maintain a defibrillator on site,” said Alex Roberton, director of Walmart Canada corporate affairs.

“Our stores do not currently have defibrillators on site.”

Last week, John Tomchuk, 60, went into sudden cardiac arrest while loading groceries into his car in the Saskatoon parking lot. A bystander reportedly entered Walmart looking for an AED, but was told there wasn’t one.

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

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

Eventually an AED was retrieved from the nearby Cabela’s and was used to save the man’s life.

“Cabela’s retail stores maintain AEDs on site for just such emergencies,” said John Tramburg, the company’s vice-president of Canada and outdoor services.

“Our hope is to be prepared and able to provide care for our customers and employees in the case of any emergency.”

Cabela’s is not alone when it comes to having an AED on site in Saskatoon. Troy Davies, coordinator for Saskatoon’s Heart Safe Program, says the devices are in roughly 800 locations across the city.

“We’re the most per-capita in North America,” said Davies.

“These machines are easy to use and we want them as common as fire extinguishers, we want these in every single building.”

READ MORE: Man’s life saved with AED at Saskatoon car dealership

Another local business that has an AED on site is Wheaton GMC Buick Cadillac. In March 2014, an employee went into cardiac arrest at the dealership and its general manager said the device saved his life.

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“It’s having the system in place, but also having the people trained to use the AED,” said Scott Cook, Wheaton’s general manager, who is qualified to use the device.

“I don’t think you’re ever a hundred per cent prepared, but we had success that day.”

Kirby Durby also knows firsthand the difference an AED can make. Ten years ago he was playing hockey at Jemini and passed out. The device was used on him and he says it saved his life.

“It’s been 10 years for me and it’s really given me a second life,” said Durby.