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Make defibrillators mandatory in B.C., says Heart and Stroke Foundation

Click to play video 'Rules and regulations around AEDs in British Columbia' Rules and regulations around AEDs in British Columbia
WATCH: Rules and regulations around AEDs in British Columbia – Jul 12, 2016

If you’re having a heart attack, having a defibrillator nearby could mean the difference between life and death.

Currently, they’re present in many public buildings – but they aren’t mandatory.

READ MORE: Questions raised after Vancouver casino refuses to lend out defibrillator following cardiac arrest

That’s something the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada wants to change, and the group is calling on the provincial government to make the devices mandatory in certain public areas.

The group points to the province of Manitoba, which has a legislated requirement for automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to be present in areas like arenas, schools and airports. It says the model should be emulated here in B.C.

WATCH: Many AEDs missing in action in B.C.

Click to play video 'Many AEDs missing in action in B.C.' Many AEDs missing in action in B.C.
Many AEDs missing in action in B.C – Mar 23, 2016

Currently, defibrillators are available through the PAD program, a partnership between the foundation and BC Emergency Health Services, explained foundation spokesperson Gillian Wong.

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“[We have] been able to place a great deal of AED’s, and a lot of other organizations who are committed to having more AED’s around the province, and around the country.”

But she said funding for that program is set to expire this year, and that the logical next step would be to implement legislation to ensure the life saving devices are always within reach.

“I think that’s really the next step for B.C., is looking at what other provinces are doing, and how we can actually make an even bigger step towards committing to cardiac arrest survival rates.”

READ MORE: In cardiac arrest, need someone to save your life? There’s an app for that

In Manitoba, the province funded the acquisition of about 1,000 of the devices for public institutions, and used its size to negotiate discounts on them.

Wong said the foundation had met with the former BC Liberal government, but were unable to spur them to table legislation on the matter.

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She said the organization is now meeting with the NDP government in hopes of seeing AEDs made mandatory.

Global News has requested comment from the Ministry of Health.