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Emergency Medical Service officials are pushing for more automatic defibrillators in local businesses and asking the public to help map the locations of the life-saving devices, allowing 911 dispatchers to alert callers to the nearest location in an emergency.

“We salute any employer who wants to go the extra mile to protect their staff and customers and we will do what we can to assist them,” said Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Justin Lammers during a news conference Thursday at Post Packaging in Lakeshore.

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“Instances of cardiac arrest can happen anywhere at any time and we can all help each other by being better prepared.”

Lammers was there to award Post Packaging owner Paul Giberson a Cardiac Champion certificate for purchasing an automatic external defibrillator (AED) for his workplace and arranging for training for some employees.

“The idea that for a small investment of money and time our business can be better equipped and trained to save just one life is the best return on investment decision I may make,” Giberson said.

“We plan to continue training as many team members as possible in the short term, which will not only help at our business location but wherever those individuals are in the event of a cardiac emergency and an AED is present.”

An AED is a sophisticated but easy-to-use electronic device that can restart a person’s heart.

Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Justin Lammers presents a Cardiac Champion certificate to Paul Giberson, owner of Post Packaging in Lakeshore on Thursday, April 18, 2024. Giberson purchased an Automatic External Defibrillator and arranged training for employees at the plant. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Survival rates following instances of sudden cardiac arrest improve dramatically if a shock from a defibrillator is received within three minutes of collapse and decrease every minute after that, Lammers said.

He added the majority of cardiac arrests that local paramedics respond to occur in private residences but emergencies do strike in public areas and accessibility to public access defibrillators or PADs could save lives.

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According to Lammers, bystander CPR was conducted on 161 occasions in 2023 but a PAD was only used in 11 of those cases.

Officials are asking Windsor and Essex County residents to participate in “mapping” all defibrillators across the region by using a smartphone app called PulsePoint.

This is ahead of Ontario’s Bill 141 that will require all PADs to be mapped and maintained.

There are about 560 defibrillators locally that have been registered.

“Defibrillators are easy to use and each and every one of us can be a lifesaver if we can quickly access a defibrillator when someone suffers an instance of sudden cardiac arrest,” said Essex County Warden Hilda MacDonald.

“All of us have the ability to save a life. The key is ensuring all our public access defibrillators are mapped and registered and we are calling on the residents of Windsor-Essex to help us achieve this life-saving goal.”

People who download the free app can upload the location of public defibrillators from their mobile devices. The uploads are then authenticated by PulsePoint and shared with the Windsor Central Ambulance Communications Centre.

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An Automatic External Defibrillator is shown at the Post Packaging plant in Lakeshore on Thursday, April 18, 2024. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

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