‘Quicker access, better survivability:’ EMS reminding rural Manitobans about importance of AEDs

An AED can mean the difference between life and death according to emergency responders. Zahra Premji / Global News

WINNIPEG — With cuts coming to rural Manitoba’s Emergency Medical Service stations, emergency responders are urging the importance of a tool that could save a life.

An Automated External Defibrillator, or an AED, could mean the difference between life and death.

Last month, the province announced it would be shutting down 18 different EMS stations in rural Manitoba. This has left some emergency responders fearful of what’s to come to those who need their help in rural parts of the province.

“In rural Manitoba it’s not out of the norm to have an hour or greater response times. So, you need that AED to save that person’s life,” Alex Forrest with the United Firefighters of Winnipeg said.

Forrest said it’s important for rural families to start considering the importance of an AED nearby at a community centre, or even at home.

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The little box like device can be bought in an emergency supplies store. It can be used to send a shock to someone’s heart to try and restore it to normal rhythm in the event of a heart attack.

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“[It Could] ensure that person is going to be alive for when the paramedics arrive,” Forrest said.

He said with the cuts coming to rural Manitoba EMS, that could mean doubling wait times. This is why he’s emphasizing the importance of the AED in helping while someone waits for a professional to arrive.

Kelcey French is a Rural Paramedic and he said he worries for the rural communities that will be cut from quick access to emergency services.

“I think as a starting point an easily accessible AED, at least one in every community, would be a good start,” French said.

French said the closer a defibrillator is to a patient, and therefore the faster you use it, the better the person’s chance of survival.

While an AED costs anywhere between $1,500 to $2,000 and may not be feasable to buy for a home, he reminds people to speak to their city councillors and community representatives to make sure one is at least near by in a public place.

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