Campaign aims to map Toronto-area defibrillators

A new initiative aims to map every defibrillator in the Toronto area in an effort to save lives.

The GTA Heart Map Challenge, launched on Sunday, invites members of the public to take part in an app-based scavenger hunt to map the precise location of Automated External Defibrillators.

There are an estimated 20,000 AEDs in Toronto, but fewer than 10 per cent are officially registered, according to Dr. Mali Worme, a co-founder of the challenge and a cardiology resident at the University of Toronto.

The contest is a joint effort between the Canadian Red Cross, Peel Paramedic Association, Hearts in Rhythm Organization, C-SCAN, Peel Regional Paramedic Services and The PulsePoint Foundation.

For Toronto-based actor Gregg Lowe, who is involved with the campaign, the life-saving potential of the devices hits close to home.

Just after finishing the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon a few years ago, he says an AED and some fast-acting paramedics helped save his life.

“I had sudden cardiac arrest and basically died.”

After the episode, surgeons implanted a defibrillator in his chest in case another cardiac event were to happen again.

Lowe said he hopes better access to the devices will mean more positive outcomes like his own.

“I think defibrillators and AEDs are one of those things that you never think is going to apply to you —i until it does apply to you.”

During a cardiac arrest, the chances of survival increase from 10 to 50 per cent with the use of an AED, the consortium stated in a release.

Worme said a publicly available registry of AEDs is long overdue.

“The problem is that when someone has a sudden cardiac arrest, it takes paramedics approximately eight minutes to get there, and every minute that passes survival drops approximately 10 per cent,” she said.

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