The Penticton paddling community is reeling after an automated external defibrillator (AED) was stolen for the second time in less than one year.
The AED was installed outside the boathouse at Skaha Lake on the south end of Penticton, B.C., so it was easily accessible for beach and lake users in case of an emergency.
In recent days, a thief snatched the piece of equipment and smashed the cabinet it was held in, paddlers said.
“After the first unit was stolen in May 2020, I didn’t feel comfortable putting up a second AED, for fear of it being stolen again,” said Don Mulhall, coach and race director for the Penticton Dragon Boat Festival.
“It’s so frustrating because a defibrillator is of absolutely no use to anyone besides someone requiring lifesaving support. And they didn’t just steal the AED, they smashed the special protective cabinet to pieces as well.”
Roger Hennig, owner of Action First Aid and a former Pen Hi graduate, stepped up and donated a replacement unit after it was stolen last year.
“It’s an important location along Skaha Beach, and the unit has actually been used in a lifesaving attempt,” Hennig said.
“We were glad to help the paddling community donate the AED to the city of Penticton both times. It’s just frustrating to see the units vandalized and stolen.”
Paddlers removed the cabinet from the front of the building to avoid giving lake goers false hope that there is an AED available nearby.
“We’re committed to providing this important piece of lifesaving equipment in the future, but we could use some help, and maybe some new ideas for keeping it safe,” Mulhall said.
Anyone looking to get involved with fundraising for the new boathouse or any paddling initiatives can contact Don Mulhall at email@example.com or call 250-488-3100.
The Skaha Lake boathouse is slated for an upgrade and expansion as part of the City of Penticton’s multi-million dollar revitalization of the east end of the park and marina building.