The Orillia Waterfront Centre is now home to an outdoor, publicly accessible defibrillator kit following a donation by two area businesses.
Co-founded by Barrie-based Action First Aid, the SaveStation Tower houses an AED defibrillator inside of a heated and ventilated tower, providing access to the life-saving equipment every day of the year.
Donated by The Peggy Hill Team and Mortgage Wellness, the equipment was unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday afternoon with city officials.
“The more I found out, the more obvious it was: it's just the kind of thing that you can't put (a price) on,” said Peggy Hill. “I have children, I have grandchildren, and just the thought that somebody would need a machine like this and not be available to save a life is what really gets to me.”
Mortgage Wellness president Nick L’ecuyer said the two feel this is a good way to give back to the communities they serve.
“(This SaveStation) is actually our second one. The first one was in Innisfil... and the idea is just, how do you give back to the communities that you serve, right?” L’ecuyer told OrilliaMatters. “For us, instead of advertising, instead of marketing, this is the perfect way (to give back).”
The donation covers the SaveStation itself, as well as the operating costs for the first four years. City council approved funding for its installation and ongoing costs beyond that time.
AEDs are used to revive people from cardiac arrest via electric shock, if the machine determines a person needs one.
The SaveStation displays a QR code that leads to a video on how to use the defibrillator, though Action First Aid said it will need to be watched before an emergency takes place.
Action First Aid president Deb Hennig said the idea for the SaveStation began about five years, and the company has since distributed more than 250 to cities across North America.
“A lot of people don't realize how big of a problem it is – one person, every 11 minutes in Canada collapses from sudden cardiac arrest and you need a defibrillator within, ideally, the first four minutes,” she said. “Brain damage sets in after four minutes, and after 10 minutes brain damage is permanent.”
“Our vision for the (SaveStation) started probably about five years ago, to try and have defibrillators become 24/7 available to the public,” Hennig added. “This technology is really fascinating because it's allowing us to put a defibrillator outside, when you otherwise couldn't.”
Hennig said the system recently saved its first lives, and made note of how young the victims were.
"Just two weeks ago, (we had) our very first outdoor save in Seattle – a young girl who's 12 years old, just saved at a soccer game, and second save happened that week late… there was a 17-year-old boy saved playing basketball at nine o'clock at night in Sonoma Valley, Calif.,” she said. “People don't realize that this can happen to anybody.”
Hennig hopes more SaveStation systems can be installed around Simcoe County.
“Our head office is in Barrie, so… our goal right now is to see more of these placed in Simcoe County. I love the idea that it's more of a local initiative that we're trying to spearhead,” she said. "The very first one was placed in Barrie City Hall, and since then we've been able to kind of spread, spread out around Simcoe. This is the first official one in Orillia, and this is hopefully the start of many.”