The goal of Start Me Up BC is to install 1000 publicly accessible automated external defibrillators (AEDs) across the province. The community defibrillator stands can be placed anywhere, whether it’s outside of a workplace, at a beach, park, downtown core, transit hub, or a tourist hot spot. The stands are kept unlocked to ensure the public can access an AED on a 24/7 basis in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest, a medical emergency that takes up to 40,000 Canadian lives each year. Almost 80% of all cases occur outside of a hospital setting with a rate of survival of only 5%.
The charity has already placed four stands in the Lower Mainland: one at Crescent Beach in Surrey, one outside of the St. John Ambulance head office on Cambie St in Vancouver, and due to generous support from the Richmond Rotary Club, two along the Canada Line at Brighouse and Bridgeport station.
“Bystander use of an AED, along with CPR, increases the chance of survival of sudden cardiac arrest upwards of 75 per cent. Despite this, AEDs in B.C. aren’t always readily available or accessible. This is why Start Me Up BC was developed,” said Leanne Strachan, campaign lead for Start Me Up BC and manager of strategic partnerships for St. John Ambulance BC & Yukon. “We believe that through this campaign, more communities will recognize their role in saving lives from emergencies like sudden cardiac arrest and be empowered to take action.”
Outside of housing an AED, every stand also comes with a first aid kit and a naloxone kit to provide even more resources and awareness for a number of emergency situations such as an opioid overdose.
“Whether it’s a sudden cardiac arrest, head injury, or a sprain, we want to provide as many tools as possible and the reassurance needed to help anyone step in as a bystander with our stands,” said Ken Leggatt, interim CEO for St. John Ambulance BC & Yukon. “The opioid crisis has shown no signs of slowing down, with over 1500 British Columbians dying in 2020, so adding a naloxone kit was no question. We hope these stands can make a difference in more ways than one in 2021.”
Given the fact that St. John Ambulance is a charity, community and corporate support is appreciated to be able to place more community defibrillators, added Leggatt.
To help see more community defibrillators in your communities, donate at supportsja.ca.